Connect to share and comment

Malaria vaccine is in the works

African scientists launch trial in seven countries for vaccine that could save thousands of lives.

“The vaccine will have to prove … its efficacy and safety, but … we need to get ready today for the vaccine to be available for the children. Today [African governments and international organizations] have to start being prepared and committed.

“We need to start thinking of uptake. So many times a vaccine has been made available and has been [left] on the shelf for a couple of years. We want the vaccine to be used the day it is made available,” said De Loucq.

Besides getting the all-clear from governments another major barrier will be cost, given that the vast majority of those suffering and dying from malaria are the poorest people in the world’s poorest countries.

However, GSK chief executive Andrew Witty said recently, “We’re not going to let price get in the way of access for malaria vaccines. We will be extremely responsible about the way we price this vaccine.”

Though thin on detail the promise was reiterated by the scientific research team.

The vaccine would be an important weapon in the fight against deadly malaria but would be just one part of an arsenal that includes insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor spraying, effective treatment once malaria takes hold and preventative anti-malarials for pregnant women. Even pop music is being used to spread education about preventing malaria.

In earlier phases of the clinical trials of RTS,S that have been ongoing since 1992 it has been shown to reduce malaria by 53 percent in children aged between 5 and 17 months and to reduce by half severe life-threatening malaria in children under 5 years old.

“For the sake of African children … we must move ahead with this vaccine,” said Dr. Cohen.