Thursday, November 17, 2005

Progress against malaria

In another major advance in the fight against infectious diseases, recently concluded tests have shown an anti-malaria vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline's RTS S/AS02A, to be far more effective than previously believed. Malaria kills over a million people world-wide each year.

The initial six month follow-up showed that the vaccine reduced the risk of clinical malaria by 30%, and the risk of serious disease by 58%. It had been thought that the vaccine would only be effective for about six months, creating a significant logistical challenge to vaccinate African childern twice a year. In a recent report published in The Lancet, researchers working in Mozambique found the jab cut the risk of clinical malaria by 35% and nearly halved the risk of serious malaria even after 18 months.

Melinda Moree, of the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, said: "We are very excited because there is a malaria vaccine that protects children from malaria and it actually lasts long enough to make it a real public health intervention that can have an impact on malaria in Africa."

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