World’s first Malaria Vaccine brings hope to Africa

Mosquitoes that cause Malaria
Malaria vaccine a breakthrough despite being partially effective, say scientists


It’s good news in the research to find a vaccine for Malaria however it may be short lived after it was found not to work very well and that initial protection fades over time.

The vaccine RTSS which is the first Malaria Vaccine in the world, could be approved by international regulators for use in Africa from October after final trial data showed it offered partial protection for up to four years.

The vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline which is designed for children in Africa would be the first licensed human vaccine against a parasitic disease and could help prevent millions of cases of malaria, which currently kills more than 600,000 people a year.

Hopes that this shot would be the final answer to wiping out malaria were dampened when trial data released in 2011 and 2012 showed it only reduced episodes of malaria in babies aged 6-12 weeks by 27 percent, and by around 46 percent in children aged 5-17 months.

Despite the dismal results   developers are moving ahead to get it approved because it could still help protect some children from getting the mosquito-spread disease.

The final stage follow-up data published in the Lancet journal on Friday showed vaccinated children continued to be protected four years on, albeit at a declining rate an important factor given the prevalence of the disease and rates of protection were stronger with a booster shot.

GlaxoSmithKline has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the vaccine, which is likely to be the world’s first licensed shot for malaria. A decision from the European Medicines Agency is expected later this year.

The World Health Organisation had previously set a target of 2015 for having a malaria vaccine that was at least 50% effective with protection lasting longer than a year.

According to a study published on Friday in the journal The Lancet, those goals have been missed with the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine, though scientists say the shot isn’t a complete waste.

Greenwood said the vaccine would likely be made available at cost and that major funders have already expressed interest in paying for immunization campaigns. Other experimental malaria vaccines are being developed but are at least several years behind.

WHO estimates malaria killed more than 580 000 people in 2013, mostly children in Africa under age 5. Officials mostly try to slow the mosquito-spread disease using bed nets, insecticide spraying, and giving out malaria medications to entire villages in areas with high levels of the disease.