New vaccine offers potential breakthrough in the fight against malaria

We recently discussed how mRNA technology could provide more effective vaccines for diseases like malaria. It turns out a successful malaria vaccine is coming onto the scene sooner than anticipated with the announcement that researchers have developed a single-dose formula with at least 75 percent efficacy. 

Developed by researchers at the University of Oxford, the vaccine has been shown to have “high-level efficacy” over 12 months of follow-up in a trial with 450 children. The team plans to expand their trials to a group of 5,000 children to confirm these results. The World Health Organization has set efficacy goals for a malaria vaccine at 75 percent, but this model is predicted to be at least 77 percent effective. Currently, the most effective malaria vaccine on the market offers only 55 percent efficacy. 

Although malaria is technically preventable and curable, limited medical resources in many areas of Africa make the disease a prominent health threat, especially for children. There were 229 million reported cases of malaria worldwide in 2019 and 409,000 deaths, predominantly in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Developing a vaccine for malaria is difficult because the disease has thousands of genes. Once phase 3 trials are complete, the researchers hope to deploy the vaccine in mass across Sub-Saharan Africa. The Serum Institute of India, a vaccine manufacturer, says it plans to have more than 200 million doses of the vaccine ready for delivery as soon as it is approved by regulators. 

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