A malaria vaccine has been shown to be highly effective in clinical trials in Africa and could have a “major impact on public health,” researchers said Friday.
More than 400,000 people worldwide lost their lives to malaria in 2019, two-thirds of whom were children under the age of five, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
A vaccine developed by researchers at the University of Oxford was found to have a high efficacy level of 77 percent, making it the first to exceed the 75 percent efficacy target set by the WHO.
It was tested in 450 children in the Nanoro department of Burkina Faso during Phase II trials during a 12-month follow-up, and no serious vaccine-related adverse events were observed.
“These are very interesting results showing unprecedented levels of efficacy for a vaccine that has been well tolerated in our testing program,” said Halidou Tinto, professor of parasitology, IRSS regional director at Nanoro and principal investigator of the trial. it said in a statement.
Researchers have begun recruiting for phase III trials involving 4,800 children, ages 5 to 36 months, in four African countries.
Malaria is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes. The first symptoms, such as fever, headache, and chills, usually appear 10-15 days after a mosquito bite and can be difficult to recognize as malaria. But if not properly treated within 24 hours, it can progress to serious illness and death.
Almost half of the world’s population was at risk of contracting malaria in 2019, with the majority of cases and deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. Only six countries (Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Republic of Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Niger) accounted for about half of the 2019 deaths.
Until now, the only way to protect against the disease was through insecticides, mosquito nets and antimalarial drugs, used mainly by travelers and pregnant women living in areas of moderate to high transmission.
Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner and Lakshmi Mittal Institute and a family professor of vaccination at the University of Oxford, said that as the Serum Institute of India has committed to manufacturing “at least 200 million doses a year in the next few years, the vaccine it has the potential to have a major public health impact if licensed. “
Gareth Jenkins, Malaria No More UK Advocacy Director, also emphasized that “an effective and safe malaria vaccine would be an enormously significant additional weapon in the arsenal needed to defeat malaria, which still kills more than 270,000 children each year. “.
“A world without malaria is a safer world both for children who would otherwise die from this disease, and for us here at home. Countries freed from the burden of malaria will be much better equipped to fight the new disease threats when they inevitably arise in the future, “he added.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism