Potential new malaria vaccine shows promise in Burkina Faso trial

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A worker of the Entomologist Research Centre takes a mosquito to analyse it for the presence of malaria parasite in Obuasi, Ashanti Region, on May 1, 2018. - The centre is set to control and prevent malaria through the analysis of parasites, mosquito monitoring and efficacy testing of insecticides. (Photo by CRISTINA ALDEHUELA / AFP) (Photo credit should read CRISTINA ALDEHUELA/AFP/Getty Images)
File: A worker of the Entomologist Research Centre takes a mosquito to analyse it for the presence of malaria parasite in Obuasi, Ashanti Region, on May 1, 2018. – The centre is set to control and prevent malaria through the analysis of parasites, mosquito monitoring and efficacy testing of insecticides. (Photo by CRISTINA ALDEHUELA / AFP) (Photo credit should read CRISTINA ALDEHUELA/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

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