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New vaccine could save the world from malaria

Updated by admin on Thursday, May 23, 2019 12:43 PM IST

New Delhi: Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk from malaria – it kills more than 4 lakh people a year, most of them in Africa, where a child dies every two minutes from the disease. But now hopes have been raised of an end to it : the first malaria vaccine is being launched in immunisation programmes in Malawi, Ghana and Kenya.

Malaria is humanity’s curse. It is among the oldest of human diseases, infecting earliest ancestors, influencing our recent evolution, and causing an estimated half of all deaths since the Stone Age.

The new vaccine has been developed by GlaxoSmithKline with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others including the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi, the global vaccine alliance. It is now available after 32 years of research, costing over $700m.

Trials show it to be just 40% effective, about as effective as influenza vaccine, but considerably less than the 97% effective diphtheria vaccine. And yet, it could be the most significant victory in the battle against malaria for several decades. It could prevent many thousands of deaths and minimize the social and economic burden that comes with dealing with the illness.

 

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