Malaria cases annually number nearly 230 million and the disease kills more than 400,000 people—mostly children—each year. The quest for an effective mosquito-borne vaccine has failed to yield any results. The World Health Organization (WHO), today announced it will recommend approval for the Mosquirix Malaria Vaccine, which was developed by GlaxoSmithKline. In the third year of clinical trials, this vaccine had been tested in malaria prevention in children from three African countries.
Although 50 percent is not a significant difference to the 95% efficacy of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccinations, a 2020 modeling study found that it could save 5.3 million lives and prevent 24,000 deaths each year by distributing the vaccine in areas where the disease is more prevalent.
It is a moment of historic significance. “This long-awaited, malaria-free vaccine for children represents a significant breakthrough in science, child health, and malaria control,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (WHO Director-General) stated in a statement. The vaccine could be used in conjunction with other tools that prevent malaria to save thousands of lives every year.
Through a bite from a mosquito, the malaria parasite gets into the bloodstream of its host. The vaccine stops the parasite infecting your liver. It then multiplies in the body and re-enters the bloodstream, infecting more red blood cells.
There are many promising malaria vaccines currently in development. One of these is an mRNA vaccine by BioNTech. BioNTech was the German company responsible for developing the highly-effective COVID-19 vaccine. It plans to start clinical trials by 2022. Mosquirix’ development took over 30 years. BioNTech could have a vaccine ready within five years, if it works.