A malaria vaccine tested in more than 2,000 Mozambique children cut the risk of developing the disease by 30 percent and lowered the incidence of life-threatening episodes by 58 percent, according to Healthday.com. One NIH official is quoted as saying this is “a major advance.”
These are the first early results (published today in The Lancet; registration required) from the largest pediatric malaria vaccine trial done in Africa and are the first to show some benefit of a malaria vaccine for kids. This is hope for a field that hasn’t had much success in developing a vaccine for a disease that kills 3000 children each day. (My colleague Erika Jonietz wrote about new malaria vaccines, including this one, a few months back.)
It won’t be until the end of the decade at the earliest that we might see a malaria vaccine approved. Let’s just hope that GlaxoSmithKline, the drug company that co-developed this vaccine and has said it’s committed to making this vaccine a reality, will actually follow through on its promise, considering how unlucrative the vaccine business is. It’s doubtful the company will be able to supply the vaccine affordably to everyone who needs it without help from richer nations.