Tewksbury Tribune: Watch Out Malaria
May 19, 2019 09:01AM
By Eric Talbot
Malaria is responsible for an estimated 435,000 deaths each year, the vast majority in Africa. Malaria is caused by several species of plasmodium parasites that are transmitted through the bite of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Children under five are considered the most vulnerable to the disease.
Malaria is most endemic to Africa, with vast majority of all cases and death occurring on the African continent. Compared to the rest of the world, there are few other places in the world where malaria is as frequently occurring as it is in Africa. A big problem is many places in Africa lack the quality of medical care available in other parts of the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and other organizations and nonprofits have been doing their best to fight malaria. Now, those fighting malaria have another tool at their disposal, the first ever malaria vaccine. As GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) back in 1987. Since is creation, the vaccine undergone years of testing with support from numerous non-profits. However, the RTS,S vaccine is only 40% effective, preventing four out of every ten cases. According to Alena Pance, senior staff scientist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said the vaccine was not “overwhelmingly effective.” However, that is still great news.
As Alena Pance further says, “But it is very important to bear in mind that 40% protection in the most endemic part of the world, Africa, is better than no protection at all. Ultimately, this is the only vaccine that has some efficacy that we currently have and has taken decades to develop. This is in itself good news,” The WHO states that the vaccine is meant to be a complimentary tool in the fight against malaria.
The pilot project led by the WHO, will start vaccinating around 360,000 children a year in three African countries. Malawi has already begun with Kenya and Ghana following suit shortly. The vaccine will be given in four does, three will be between five and nine months of age while the fourth will be around the 2nd birthday.