A new malaria vaccine may soon be hitting developing countries, where it cut cut cases among children by as much as 50%
Malaria is one of the biggest killers in the world, but in recent years, there’s been some great advances in malaria research. A new vaccine has sliced the number of cases in babies five to seven months old by half, and 6 to 12 weeks by a quarter.
The vaccine, known as RTS,S is developed by GlaxoSmithKline and lasts for about 18 months before the effects begin to wane. While this may not seem like particularly impressive results, those 18 months can make a huge difference in tropical climates where Mmlaria is rampant. The disease kills roughly 660,000 people every year, with the majority of deaths being among young children of age five and under. In total, more than 219 million cases of Malaria are diagnosed every year.
Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK has expressed that his company is encouraged by the results and will now apply for a license to use the vaccine in Africa under provision of the European Medicines Agency. “While we have seen some decline in vaccine efficacy over time, the sheer number of children affected by malaria means that the number of cases of the disease the vaccine can help prevent is impressive,” he said. The vaccine may come to developing countries as early as 2015.
World distribution of Malaria
There are other vaccines in development at the moment, but GSK has stated that they’re not trying to rush to license to beat their competitors despite the limited functionality of the vaccine: “I think the nearest vaccine is still in phase one – there is a huge long way to go. This is a very complex area. I don’t expect a competitor vaccine for a very long time,” says GSK’s senior vice president for developing countries Duncan Learmouth.