This is amazing – a (partially) effective vaccine for malaria. The full scholarly article on the Phase 3 clinical trial is here. In short, the vaccine reduced the incidence of malaria amongst vaccinated children by about half.
It’s not a panacea, but an incredible achievement nonetheless. Malaria is caused by parasites in the Plasmodium family rather than a virus or bacteria; this is apparently the first effective vaccine against a parasite-induced disease.
Whether the vaccine in its present form is effective enough to warrant mass vaccinations has not yet been determined; cost may also be another barrier to wide deployment. GlaxoSmithKline, the drug company developing the vaccine, has promised to sell the vaccine essentially at cost to developing countries.
Some useful global context is provided by the Guardian Data blog that shows that the majority of the tens of millions of cases of malaria every year occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria rates, and especially deaths, are trending down; a vaccine that protects the most vulnerable – young children – could reduce those numbers further.
I dips me lid.