Quickhit: Malaria vaccine now a reality

This sends shivers down my spine (in a good way): trials suggest that the two-decade work on developing a malaria vaccine has finally been successful.

This has social (and social justice) implications. For example:

“The addition of a malaria vaccine to existing control interventions, such as bed nets and insecticide spraying, could potentially help prevent millions of cases of this debilitating disease. It could also reduce the burden on hospital services, freeing up much-needed beds to treat other patients who often live in remote villages, with little or no access to healthcare” [said Andrew Witty, GlaxoSmithKline’s CEO].

That is especially in circumstances where GSK “promised to sell it at no more than a fraction over cost-price, with the excess being ploughed back into further tropical disease research.” Wow!

It also has pretty awesome science implications:

Witty told the Guardian he was thrilled for the scientists, who were thought by many of their peers to be attempting the impossible when they started work on a vaccine 25 years ago. “When the team was first shown the data, quite a number of them broke down in tears,” he said. “It was the emotion of what they had achieved – the first vaccine against a parasitic form of infection. They were overwhelmed. It says something about the amount of heart that has gone into this project.”

More in the article – including that the vaccine is far from perfect, but it’s a pretty giant leap. Anyway, the article is well worth a read.

* Thumbnail image: from Svadilfari’s Flickr photostream.

Categories: medicine, social justice

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1 reply

  1. This is thrilling news for those in malaria zones, absolutely wonderful. It’s a first crucial step.
    Of course, the response from some elsewhere has been to claim that we wouldn’t have neededa vaccine if “they” hadn’t banned the use of DDT against malarial mosquitoes (which of course never actually happened – DDT was banned for other uses, but never for anti-malarial uses – and it’s not used much any more because the mosquitoes became resistant to the DDT (just as somebody predicted they would, in fact)).

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