Malaria is among the oldest known and deadliest of infectious diseases in the world which have killed about 500,000 people each year, about half of them children in Africa.
According to the NY Times, the new vaccine isn’t perfect, but it will help turn the tide, experts said.
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The new vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, rouses a child’s immune system to thwart Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of five malaria pathogens and the most prevalent in Africa. By one estimate, the vaccine will save tens of thousands of children each year.
What good news!
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently endorsed the vaccine, the first step in a process that should lead to wide distribution in poor countries.
Director of the WHO Global Malaria Program said: “To have a malaria vaccine that is safe, moderately effective and ready for distribution is a historic event.”
Malaria is a rare disease in a developed world. There are only 2,000 cases in the United States each year, mostly among travelers returning from countries in which the disease is endemic.
The vaccine, called Mosquirix, is not just a first for malaria, but it is the first developed for any parasitic disease.
“Parasites are much more complex than viruses and bacteria, and the quest for malaria vaccine has been underway for a hundred years.
“It’s a huge jump from the science perspective to have a first-generation vaccine against a human parasite,” said Dr. Alonso.
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In clinical trials, the vaccine had an efficacy of about 50% against severe malaria in the first year, but the figure dropped close to zero by the fourth year. The trials did not directly measure the vaccine’s impact on deaths, which has led some experts to question whether it is a worthwhile investment in countries with countless other intractable problems.
“But severe malaria accounts for up to half of malaria deaths and is considered ‘a reliable proximal indicator of mortality.
“I do expect we will see that impact,” said Dr. May Hamel, who leads the WHO’s malaria vaccine implementation program.
A modeling study estimated that if the vaccine were rolled out to countries with the highest incidence of malaria, it could prevent 5.4 million cases and 23,000 deaths in children younger than 5-years-old each year.
This is great news!
We hope more and more children could benefit from this new vaccine.
By: Aishah Akashah Ahadiat