World's first malaria vaccine approved

The vaccine, Mosquirix, otherwise known as the RTS,S vaccine, is the first against a parasitic infection in humans, and it was developed by GlaxoSmithKline.

The world has come a step closer to fighting malaria as the first ever malaria vaccine has cleared one of the final hurdles prior to being approved for use in Africa.

The European Medicines Agency gave a positive scientific opinion after assessing its safety and effectiveness.

The vaccine, Mosquirix,otherwise known as the RTS,S vaccine, is the first against a parasitic infection in humans, and it was developed by GlaxoSmithKline.

According to BBC, the World Health Organization will consider later this year whether to recommend it for children, among whom trials have yielded mixed results.

GSK has not revealed the price of the vaccine, but has pledged not to make a profit from it.

It has been designed specifically to combat malaria infection in children in Africa and will not be licensed for travellers.

The vaccine works by triggering the immune system to defend against the first stages of infection by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite after it enters the bloodstream following a mosquito bite.

Final results of a clinical trial in seven African countries earlier in the year yielded mixed results, with the best results recorded among children aged 5 to 17 months.

The children received 3 doses of the vaccine a month apart, plus a booster dose at 20 months. In this group, cases of severe malaria were cut by a third over 4 years.

However, the effectiveness of the vaccine waned over time, making the booster shot essential, because without it, the vaccine did not cut the rate of severe malaria over the trial period.

Disappointingly, the jab did not prove very effective in protecting young babies from severe malaria, a situation which presents a dilemma for the WHO.

Thus, in October the body will decide whether the vaccine should be deployed, because it is not nearly as effective as scientists would have hoped.

Dr Ripley Ballou, head of research at GSK vaccines, described the development as a "hugely significant moment" even as he revealed that the vaccine has been in the works for 30 years.


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