Sunday, July 26, 2015

Green light for malaria vaccine for Africa

Tania Rabesandratana in The first malaria vaccine has received the green light from European regulators today, opening the door for vaccination campaigns for infants in Africa. This a big leap forward for the RTS,S vaccine after decades of research. Also known under the commercial name Mosquirix, the vaccine is intended to protect children aged six weeks to 17 months against the mosquito-transmitted Plasmodium falciparum parasite that causes malaria.

“RTS,S is an imperfect vaccine, providing only partial protection against clinical malaria,” says Brian Greenwood, a clinical tropical medicine researcher at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, today’s approval is an “important landmark” that can help control malaria where other methods, such as using bed nets impregnated with insecticides, are not effective enough, Greenwood adds.

According to the World Health Organization, 562,000 people died from malaria in Africa in 2013, of whom 82 per cent were children under five.

The main evidence that the vaccine is safe and effective comes from a large clinical trial conducted in seven African countries, the European Medicines Agency said in a statement. According to this trial, Mosquirix provides “modest protection”, which decreases after one year, but despite this “limited efficacy”, its benefits outweigh the risks, the agency says....

USAID photo of Angolan children with bednets for malaria protection

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