Malaria vaccine achieves striking early success

Summary

After decades of disappointing results, new findings have revived hopes for an effective vaccine against malaria, which kills some 400,000 people every year, most of them children. An experimental vaccine that targets the most dangerous form of the malaria parasite was found to have an efficacy of 71% to 77% after 1 year. The results come from a trial of a vaccine developed by researchers at the University of Oxford involving 450 toddlers in Burkina Faso. During the 12 months after vaccination, 27% of children who received vaccine with a high dose of an immune-boosting compound called an adjuvant developed malaria; in a control group that didn’t receive the malaria vaccine, the number was 72%. The study investigators are now planning a trial enrolling 4800 children in Burkina Faso, Mali, Kenya, and Tanzania. Scientists not involved in the trial caution that the current trial was small and add that the duration of the vaccine’s protection remains to be proved.

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