After examining the effectiveness and safety of the world’s first malaria vaccine, the European Medicines Agency has given a positive scientific feedback. The vaccine in question has been developed by GlaxoSmithKline and is called Mosquirix.
Later this year, WHO (World Health Organization) will be considering whether the vaccine should be recommended for children. For those who don’t know: trials of the vaccine among children have thrown up mixed results.
Every year, malaria kills nearly 584,000 people worldwide. The majority of them are kids living in sub-Saharan Africa and aged below five years.
Mosquirix, which is also referred to as the RTS, S vaccine, is the first ever vaccine for protecting humans against parasitic infections.
The research head at GSK vaccines Dr. Ripley Ballou said that recommendation of the vaccine by the European regulators marks an immensely significant moment. He added that he has spent the past thirty years of his life working on this vaccine and this event is “a dream come true” for him.
GSK has not yet divulged what kind of price tag the vaccine will carry. However, the company has promised that it would not look to make profit by selling the vaccine.
Mosquirix has been formulated particularly for combating malaria infection in kids in Africa. It will not be licensed for being used for travelers.
The clinical trial of the vaccine conducted in seven African nations earlier this year threw up mixed results. According to that trial, best protection was enjoyed by kids aged between 5 and 17 months and receiving three doses of Mosquirix every month in addition to a booster dose at 20 months.
Severe malaria cases in the above mentioned group could be cut down by one-third in just four years. Researchers, however, found that the efficacy of Mosquirix started waning with time. This made administering the booster shot an absolute necessity. The study showed that the vaccine couldn’t reduce the rate of severe malaria without a booster shot.
One of the most disappointing facts thrown up by the trial was that the jab was not found to be very effective in safeguarding very young babies against severe malaria.
This makes the situation a bit perplexing for WHO, which will have to decide whether it would be right to deploy the vaccine.