#Malaria #vaccine hope: African #trial shows the risk of malaria cut in half
Last week we were in Lyon for the World Vaccine Congress and had the chance to actually meet all those people who are working hard on bringing malaria under control in the hardest hit African countries. We heard the amazing results and stats first hand of the largest-ever malaria vaccine study, involving 15,460 babies and small children, showing that it could massively reduce the impact of the much-feared killer disease. Malaria takes nearly 800,000 lives a year – mostly children under five. It damages many more.
Andrew Witty, GSK’s CEO, told the Guardian he was thrilled for the scientists, who were thought by many of their peers to be attempting the impossible when they started work on a vaccine 25 years ago. "When the team was first shown the data, quite a number of them broke down in tears," he said. "It was the emotion of what they had achieved – the first vaccine against a parasitic form of infection. They were overwhelmed. It says something about the amount of heart that has gone into this project."
Christopher Elias, president and chief executive of Path, that has helped fund the study, with the assistance of the Gates Foundation, said such high-quality science was moving the fight against malaria on.
"The Path malaria vaccine initiative’s mission is to deliver a vaccine to the children of Africa so that instead of carrying near lifeless babies to crowded paediatric wards, mothers will carry their infants past noisy school playgrounds to bustling immunisation clinics. Today, we are an important step closer to realising that vision, and we look forward to continuing our drive, together with our partners, to bring this vaccine home to the children of Africa."
Let’s hope that the enthusiasm and result keep pouring in so that this case will not be considered a one off, but an example collaboration for others to follow and combat more diseases with vaccines.