Thursday, October 20, 2011

Finally, a Malaria Vaccine

After 30 years of trying, scientists have finally developed a vaccine that works (partially) against malaria, a parasite that kills more than ¾ of a million people per year. The vaccine is only about 50% effective, but that’s still considered significant because there has never been an effective vaccine against any parasite, ever.

Research leading to the new vaccine was funded in part by more than $200 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates himself announced the results of the first clinical trials this week at a meeting in Seattle, to coincide with an online publication in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Production of the vaccine will be in Europe, and the cost will be kept as low as possible. It will take time to ramp up production, but the hope is that by 2015 the vaccine may be available to tens of millions of children per year. Initial vaccination efforts will focus on Africa, where one in five children die from malaria.

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