First malaria vaccine raises hope for millions living in high burden countries

The European Medicines Agency recognised the first ever malaria vaccine last week

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Monday 27 July 2015

The European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has adopted a positive scientific opinion of Mosquirix (Plasmodium falciparum and hepatitis B vaccine) for use outside the European Union (EU).

The vaccine, introduced by UK-based pharma company GSK, has a success rate of around 30 per cent and has the potential to save millions of lives given the high number of casualties every year. Mosquirix will not be marketed in the EU.

In a statement, GSK explains that over the first 18 months following three doses of the vaccine during the trial, malaria cases were reduced by almost half in children aged five to 17 months and 27 per cent in infants aged six to 12 weeks. The efficacy of the vaccine decreased after one year. The safety profile of the vaccine was considered acceptable.

The vaccine was evaluated in addition to existing malaria control measures, such as insecticide-treated bed nets, which were used by approximately 80 per cent of the children and infants in the trial.

The clinical trial was conducted on children from Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.

Malaria is caused by parasites known as plasmodia which are transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes. While five different types of plasmodia parasites cause malaria, Plasmodium falciparum is recognised as the most serious cause of malaria death and disease.

If left untreated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening. In 2013, 627,000 deaths from malaria were reported globally according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Of this, 562,000 occurred in the African region, mostly among children under the age of five years (around 82 per cent).

In India, 22 per cent of the total population lives in high transmission areas, according to World Malaria Report, 2014. In 2013, 0.88 million cases were recorded, with 128 million tests being conducted on suspected cases. The incidence of malaria in India accounted for 58 per cent of cases in the South East Asia Region of WHO.


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