Malaria Vaccine To Be Tested In Three African Countries

First Posted: Apr 25, 2017 04:49 AM EDT

The first malaria vaccine will be tested in real-world setting in Africa by 2018. This is good news around the globe considering that over 400,000 people lost their lives to the mosquito-borne disease in 2015 alone. Every year, hundreds of millions more get infected, many of whom never recovered.

According to CNN, there had been an enormous progress in fighting the disease over the past years. Between 2000 and 2015, the deaths associated with the disease decreased nearly 62 percent, while there is a 21 percent reduction in the total number of cases. The numbers have been dwindling, but this is not due to a cure. The fewer deaths were said to be due in part to the better mosquito control and disease awareness.

In sub-Saharan Africa, however, about 43 percent of people are at risk for the disease. They do not have access to mosquito protection such as bed nets or bug sprays. Being the continent with the highest number of malaria cases, the new vaccine called the Mosquirix will be tested in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi beginning next year.

BBC News reported that it is not clear how feasible the vaccine is to use in the poorest parts of the world. It is said to be given four times to get its full effects: once a month for three months, then another dose 18 months after. While the malaria vaccine was developed in tightly controlled and well-funded clinical trials, it is not clear whether or not it can be as effective in the "real world" where there is limited access to health care.

It is with this sentiment that the World Health Organization is running the pilot testing in three countries. Information gathered in the program can help researchers make decisions regarding the wider use of the vaccine. The initial program is said to involve over 750,000 children between 5 and 17 months, half of which will be given the vaccine to compare its effectiveness in the real world.

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