The new malaria vaccine, called Mosquirix made by GlaxoSmithKline, rouses a child’s immune system to thwart Plasmodium Falciparum, the deadliest of the five malaria pathogens and the most prevalent in Africa. On Wednesday, October 6th, The World Health Organization endorsed the vaccine, the first step in a process that should lead to wide distribution in developing countries.
The vaccine is not just a first for malaria — it is the first developed for any parasitic disease. In clinical trials, the vaccine had an efficacy of about 50 per cent against severe malaria in the first year, but the figure dropped close to zero by the fourth year.
“To have a malaria vaccine that is safe, moderately effective and ready for distribution is ‘a historic event,’” said Dr Pedro Alonso, director of the W.H.O.’s global malaria program. “It’s a huge jump from the science perspective to have a first-generation vaccine against a human parasite.”