Malaria Vaccine Kindles Hope

NEW DELHI: The world’s first effective vaccine to protect children against malaria could become a reality by 2011. Scientists on Wednesday announced that trials of a new malaria vaccine, RTSS/AS02, had successfully cut the risk of infection in African children.

For children in the 1-4 age group, the most vulnerable group, the vaccine not only lowered the chances of infection by 65% over three months but also reduced episodes of clinical malaria by 35% in six months. It was also found to be safe. The children received the full course of three shots.

Till now, no other vaccine in trial has demonstrated such high efficacy. Scientists have been on the lookout for a malaria vaccine since the 1970s but no vaccine has demonstrated a protection rate of more than 35%. Meanwhile, malaria continues to ravage nations and rob children of their lives. Annually, malaria affects half a billion people across the world, killing 2-3 million people. A child is killed every 30 seconds around the world.

In India, five lakh people are affected on average and over 1,000 die of malaria. Last year, 18 lakh people across India had malaria.

The Phase II trial of the vaccine was conducted by the Manhiga Health Research Centre in Mozambique by scientists from the Hospital Clinic of the University of Barcelona and the Mozambique ministry of health.

“We have shown for the first time that a vaccine can reduce the risk of malaria infection in young African infants exposed to intense P falciparum transmission,” said Pedro Alonso, principal investigator of the study.

Source:The Times Of India

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