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Finally! We have a vaccine against malaria! Unless we don’t…

Finally! We have a vaccine against malaria! Unless we don’t…

Publish date: 2015-08-11

A vaccine called Mosquirix or RTS,S has been ready to use for the past couple of years. What prevents European Medicines Agency and World Health Organization from its official approval is the low efficacy.

Tags: EMA , malaria , africa , WHO , vaccine , Mosquirix , RTS , S

To the date, there is no effective vaccine against parasites. Those who picked up the gauntlet are scientists from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a pharmaceutical giant, in partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. Mosquirix aiming at Plasmodium falciparum, the major cause of malaria in Africa, has been developed a couple of years ago, but it brought rather a consternation that an applause.

Large multistage trial, which has involved 16,000 children in eight African countries, did not bring satisfying news. According to the result of phase III trial,vaccine reduced episodes of malaria in children only by about one-third, which equals far less than 50 % efficacy. Clinical trial took quite a long time - since vaccine’s efficacy wanes with time, the trial tested three doses delivered 1 month apart, followed by a booster 18 months later. Overall result shown the effect expressed in following numbers: vaccine reduced malaria cases in 39 % of toddlers aged 5 to 17 months and 27 % of infants 6 to 12 weeks old. That is far away from what we consider as an effective vaccine.

In the light of above complications, European Medicines Agency (EMA) was skeptical as regard vaccine approval, however according to an actual statement, concludes that the benefits outweigh the risks of using the vaccine in both age groups. For now, this is an opinion, not a formal approval, however it opens the way for WHO to make a global recommendation preceded by analysis of cost-effectiveness, feasibility, and the public-health value of the vaccine compared with other interventions. Afterwards, WHO could possibly decide in what regions and in what age groups a vaccine could be administrated. Organization is expected to issue that recommendation by the end of the year.

Do we have any alternative to Mosquirix? No. - It is still 5 to 10 years ahead of any other candidate vaccines – says Seth Berkeley, head of GAVI, the vaccine alliance. There is also a question: is one-third malaria cases reduction not vital to change of actual life quality? Currently, GSK is working on a second-generation vaccine.

 

Source: Science Magazine

Monika Kossakowska-Zwierucho

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