All things being equal, the world’s first malaria vaccine could make its debut in 2015. GlaxoSmithkline, GSK, the pharmaceutical company behind the vaccine development, has indicated that if the gains from RTS,S – the name of the vaccine – continue then it would apply for a licence from the European Medicines Agency.
In spite of the limited protection it currently offers against malaria, news of a promising vaccine from GSK has been received with a standing ovation from different parts of the world. Malaria, according to the World Health Organisation, WHO, kills more than 600,000 people annually.
A study involving 15,000 babies and children in seven African countries revealed that a single jab of the vaccine continues to protect them for as long as 18 months after vaccination.
But the vaccine has its limitations. Months after the three-dose vaccination, children were 46 per cent less likely to suffer malaria. The protection for the babies in the study was even smaller. The infants were just 27 per cent likely to suffer from malaria even after the immunisation.
Andrew Witty, chief executive, GSK, said the limitation is not enough to dismiss the vaccine. “While we have seen some decline in vaccine efficacy over time, the sheer number of children affected by malaria means that the number of cases of the disease the vaccine can help prevent is impressive,” he noted.