Malaria vaccine seems nearer

According to one of the leading articles published in El País yesterday, the latest news about the new malaria vaccine developed by Spanish scientist Pedro Alonso and presented to the international media last year is very encouraging.

The new malaria vaccine has successfully passed the latest tests carried out to measure its lasting effectiveness on children aged up to four years old. The trials have so far overcome the hurdles which led to scientist Manuel Patarroyo withdrawing his malaria vaccine some ten years ago after unsuccessful tests were carried out in Tanzania.

According to the news report, the British medical journel Lancet will publish an article by Alonso describing the results of these latest trials which prove that the new vaccine has not lost its efficacy over a period of 18 months. Another member of Alonso’s research team participating in this project writes in the article “the most important thing is that this is the first time ever that a vaccine against malaria has had such a long-lasting effect”.

Trials have been carried out in Mozambique where children who have been administered the vaccine will continue to be monitored twice a year in order to assess the long-term effectiveness of the vaccine.

When the announcement of a possible new malaria vaccine discovered by Spanish scientists was published by the same journal in October last year, trials carried out then had proven lasting effects at six months. So proven efficacy of the new malaria vaccine one year later has been extended to 18 months, and Dr. Alonso is optimistic about the continued effectiveness of the new drug.

Each year between one and three million children are killed by malaria, and ninety percent of all malaria cases are in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is the biggest killer of African children and a successful vaccine would transform public health facilities in many African countries.

The long-term efficacy of the new vaccine in children aged under one will now be tested in new trials. Pedro Alonso believes that if the results of the current trials enjoy continued success, then the vaccine could be distributed on a massive scale within five years time.

Dr. Alonso directs the International Health Centre at Barcelona University as well as the Health Research Center in Manhica (Mozambique) which is financed by the Spanish government. The development of a new malaria vaccine has been made possible by funds granted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the drugs company Glaxo Smith Kline.

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