Melissa Dewberry enjoys doing crossword puzzles, walking her cat and pondering ways to patch up the hole in the ozone layer.
After decades of disappointment, researchers think they are on the cusp on creating the first practical vaccine against malaria.
In the “world’s first large field trial of an experimental malaria vaccine, several thousand young children who got three doses had about 55 percent less risk of getting the disease over a year than those who got a control vaccine against rabies or meningitis.”
Dr. Christian Louqc, leader of the final-phase clinical trial at 11 sites across Africa, said, “that among the several thousand children who got ‘control’ vaccines, there were 1,500 cases of malaria – more than one episode per child in the following year. But for every 1,000 children who got a the experimental malaria vaccine, there were only 750 cases.”
With regards to life-threatening malaria, there were 20 cases among over 1,000 children who got the study vaccine, compared to 40 cases per 1,000 children who got vaccines for other disease.
While the vaccine’s effectiveness rate, which is 50 percent, is far lower that the 90 percent-plus established protection offered by established vaccines like polio and measles, it still stands to save hundreds of thousands of lives a year.
When the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which funded much of the vaccine’s development, was asked about the vaccine’s effectiveness, the foundation’s doctor, Regina Rabinovich, said, “I would prefer to see 100 percent efficacy, absolutely.”
Yet since malaria kills nearly 800,000 a year, many of them children under 5 in sub-Saharan Africa, employing a vaccine that is even 50 percent protective could save scores of lives and resources.
Read more at NPR.