CLINICAL TRIALS OF MALARIA VACCINES, ANOTHER STEP FORWARD
Malaria is an infection that causes high fever and chills. It is caused by a parasite called plasmodium that is passed to people by the female anopheles mosquito. Malaria occurs mostly during hot rainy seasons because the mosquitoes that carry it breed in warm stagnant water. However, it is also found in the dry season, when mosquitoes find breeding sites in small stagnant pools of water.
In under-developed and developing countries across the globe, millions of people live with the disease just as millions more, especially pregnant women and children under the age of five years die from malaria every year. Current data on the disease indicates that over 225 million people get malaria each year and about 800,000 die of malaria each year. Malaria is particularly dangerous to children under 5 years, pregnant women and people with HIV/AIDS. It is mostly common among poor people and the number of deaths is growing by the day. While many people can live with some forms of malaria, it can cause death within a few days of infection.
Though there are many new medicines that can be used to treat malaria, some forms of the malaria parasite have developed drug resistance, rendering such medications ineffective. The current news about the clinical trials of malaria vaccines developed by GlaxoSmithKline alongside other partners is therefore a welcome progress. Towards the development of the vaccines, GlaxoSmithKline has invested about $300 million in the last 25 years with $200 million contribution by other partners and scientists. The malaria vaccines has come a step closer to eradicating malaria as the vaccines, as averred, can halve the risk of getting malaria. The clinical trials of the vaccines have been conducted in seven (7) African countries and more than 15,000 children are said to have taken part. The vaccines have been proven to have the ability to reduce the risk of getting malaria by 75% in the first year of taking the vaccine. More upcoming tests have been scheduled towards influencing policy in support of the vaccines.