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New 77% Effective Malaria Vaccine Could Be A Game-Changer For The World

malaria vaccine trials
Afrika Force/Flickr

Just months after breakthroughs were announced in fighting a disease new on the scene, there’s news of vaccine to fight a disease that’s troubled the world for years: Malaria.

The Times of London reported that the new vaccine is up to 77 percent effective in preventing malaria. That compares favorably to the only current vaccine available even after years of research; that vaccine is only 36 percent effective.

CNN reported that the vaccine, developed by Oxford University, showed the improved efficacy rates in a trial of 450 children in Burkina Faso over 12 months. The shot was the first to meet the World Health Organization’s Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap goal of a malaria vaccine with at least 75% efficacy.

The trial involved inoculations for children between five and 17 months, and reported no serious side effects.

“These are very exciting results showing unprecedented efficacy levels from a vaccine that has been well-tolerated in our trial program,” Halidou Tinto, the trial’s principal investigator, said in a statement. “We look forward to the upcoming Phase III trial to demonstrate large-scale safety and efficacy data for a vaccine that is greatly needed in this region.”

The Phase III trial will assess large-scale safety and efficacy in 4,800 children, aged 5-36 months, across four different African countries.

The eventual goal is for the university and its partners to be able to manufacture at least 200 million doses annually, which researchers said would have a “major public health impact if licensure is achieved.” Oxford also partnered with AstraZeneca to create a COVID-19 vaccine in circulation throughout the world.

The CNN article notes, “Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted through the bite of female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is both preventable and treatable, yet an estimated 435,000 people die of it each year, with the majority being children younger than five.”

According to the World Health Organization, 94% of all malaria cases and deaths in 2019 originated in Africa.

“Malaria is one of the leading causes of childhood mortality in Africa,” said Charlemagne Ouédraogo, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Health, regarding the latest trial. “We have been supporting trials of a range of new vaccine candidates in Burkina Faso and these new data show that licensure of a very useful new malaria vaccine could well happen in the coming years. That would be an extremely important new tool for controlling malaria and saving many lives.”

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Written by Phil West