Eu regulators have given the green light to what might be the world’s first Malaria vaccine. If approved by the WHO, it will begin to be used in African children.
There have been numerous attempts over the years to develop a vaccine for Malaria, but so far none of them have ever made it to the point where they might actually be approved for mass use. This Friday however, the Malaria vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline, called RTS,S and commercially, Mosquirix, has finally received approval for human use. The company has received extensive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The clinical trial for Mosquirix has been conducted children, and the vaccine was used together with other preventative methods, including chemoprophylaxis and bed nets. The results were submitted in 2011 and 2012.
Mosquirix does not have a 100% efficacy, not by far, but it is the best Malaria vaccine to be produced up to this day. According to the data conveyed by its trial, the vaccine has proven to be effective in 27% of cases in babies with ages from 6 to 12 weeks and 46% effective in children with ages from 5 to 17 months.
The price of the vaccine has been estimated at $5 a dose, which makes it as cheep as other malaria preventative measures, such as bed nets. The GlaxoSmithKline company will not be making profits from the development of Mosquirix, bur merely ensuring that further production can be financially sustained and that they have funding for future research projects focusing on malaria.
This might not seem like much, but considering the gigantic proportion of the burden of disease associated with Malaria, a vaccine that could help a quarter to half of the children is still an immense break through. According to the CDC, there are approximately 198 million cases of malaria every year, that result in more than 500,000 deaths, out of which the majority are African children.
The WHO will have to consider if the vaccine is worth implementing, because while the vaccine itself is cheap, developing an immunization campaign is extremely difficult and expensive. Therefore, the WHO is faced with an impossible decision, because it needs to figure out the best way of saving more lives with the tools available up to this point.
The Mosquirix vaccine will have to be used alongside other indispensable preventative measure, such as insecticide impregnated bed nets and preventative medication, that save millions of lives every day.
However, taking into account that it targets children of small ages, who constitute the highest risk group associated with Malaria, because the majority of deaths occur in this particular group, using the Mosquirix vaccine is a priority.
“I have absolutely no reservations in terms of rolling this vaccine out,” Joe Cohen, the GSK scientist who has led the Malaria research project, told Reuters. “Why? Because the efficacy, when translated into cases averted and deaths averted, is just tremendous. It will have an enormously significant public health impact.”
It remains to be seen whether the WHO will decide to utilize this new vaccine in its Malaria prevention strategies. However, an approved anti-Malarial vaccine constitutes an enormous scientific break through, because it has been a long time coming. There are other research projects that are addressing malaria that are already in development and hopefully, they will render even more potent vaccines in the near future.
Image Source: topnews