A potential new malaria vaccine has proved highly effective in a trial in babies in Africa, pointing to it one day possibly helping reduce the death toll from the mosquito-borne disease that kills up to half a million young children a year.
The candidate vaccine, developed by scientists at Britain’s University of Oxford and called R21/Matrix-M, showed up to 77% efficacy in the year-long trial of 450 children in Burkina Faso, researchers leading the trial said in a statement.
According to the scientists, led by Adrian Hill, director of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and also one of the lead researchers behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, they now plan to conduct final stage trials in some 4,800 children aged between 5 months and 3 years in four African Countries.
Hill said he had “high expectations for the potential of this vaccine” which he said would be the first against malaria to reach a World Health Organization (WHO) goal of a malaria shot with at least 75% efficacy.
Scientists around the world have been working for decades to develop a vaccine to prevent malaria – a complex infection caused by a parasite carried in the saliva of mosquitoes.
Malaria infects millions of people every year and kills more than 400,000 – most of them babies and young children in the poorest parts of Africa.