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Malaria vaccine promise

Wednesday October 19th, 2011

A new malaria vaccine is having some success in reducing rates of the disease among young children, it was announced yesterday.

The vaccine, on trial in Africa, has not succeeded in eliminating disease but has reduced rates of disease by nearly half, researchers reported.

So far some 15,000 children in seven African countries have taken part in the research funded with some 200 million US dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These included some 6,500 babies and another 8,900 infants.

Results of the trial were revealed at the Foundation's Malaria Forum in Seattle, Washington, USA, and also reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The findings come from an analysis of the first year after children were vaccinated. During the research some 8,500 children received a vaccine and 4,300 did not.

Of the vaccinated children, some 149 contracted malaria, a rate of 1.7 per cent. This compared with 116 cases amongst the unvaccinated children - a rate of 2.7 per cent.

The findings reported yesterday related mainly to the 6,000 children over the age of five months - and so far the research does not show vaccination leading to a reduction in death rates. About one per cent of children died from the disease.

Researcher Professor Brian Greenwood, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, said: "The interim results of this trial confirm the efficacy of this vaccine in infants and older children and take it a further step along the road to becoming the first malaria vaccine to be licensed and used in public health programs.

"We now have confirmation of its promise as a potentially valuable tool in malaria control.”

First Results of Phase 3 Trial of RTS,S/AS01 Malaria Vaccine in African Children. New England Journal of Medicine October 18 2011 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1102287

Tags: Africa | General Health | North America | UK News | World Health

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