Malaria is a leading cause of child mortality in Africa. Now, for the first time, a highly effective vaccine has been tested in a clinical study.
According to an estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO), there were 229 million cases of malaria globally in 2019 . 409,000 people died of the disease in 2019, including 274,000 children (67%). The disease transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito is one of the main causes of child mortality in Africa.
Scientists at Oxford University have now for the first time tested a vaccine against malaria in a clinical study that has exceeded the WHO target of 75 percent effectiveness by 2030. The drug with the name R21 / Matrix-M was able to reduce the risk of the disease by 77 percent in a phase II study.
Study with only 450 subjects
However, only 450 young children aged five to 17 months in Burkina Faso who were observed for one year after vaccination took part in the study. No serious side effects were found in any of the subjects. “These new results support our high expectations of the potential of this vaccine,” stated Adrian Hill. A larger phase III study is therefore to be carried out in several African countries with 4,800 children in cooperation with the US pharmaceutical company Novavax and the Indian Serum Institute.
World Malaria Day
“We have to continue to build on that, we have to get our sheep dry, we have to avoid any signal of safety, but I think the chances are good that we will make the breakthrough,” says Adrian Hill. Should the larger study confirm the high effectiveness and low side effects of the vaccine, the drug could be a decisive breakthrough in achieving the goals announced by the WHO as part of World Malaria Day. According to this, 25 countries, including Guatemala, Honduras, North Korea and Thailand, should be free of malaria by 2025.