The world gained its first malaria vaccine on Tuesday, a milestone in efforts to treat a disease that kills more than 600,000 people each year. The news that the World Health Organization had approved the new vaccine, called Mosquirix, marked the end of a decades-long effort to rid the world of a dangerous disease.
The vaccine, developed by GlaxoSmithKline, was approved under a fast-track process after phase III trials showed that it reduced cases of malaria by approximately 50%. While the percentage is a moderate one, it meets the minimum requirements of WHO.
The vaccine, called Mosquirix, is a recombinant version of a natural malaria protein called a circumsporozoite protein, or CSP. It works by stimulating the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against malaria, protecting people who are exposed to the disease.
The company said it plans to begin selling the vaccine in 2016, with prices varying depending on chosen formulations and recipients.
Malaria kills more than 600,000 people each year, mostly children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the WHO.
The disease is caused by a parasite that enters red blood cells through mosquito bites and lives inside the cells, reproducing and releasing more parasites. A variety of medications can be used to fight malaria, but severe cases are often treated with antimalarial drugs called artemisinin-based combination therapies.
In 2019, the number of malaria cases in the globe reached 229 million. In 2019, there were 409 000 malaria fatalities. The most susceptible groups of malaria-infected children under 5 years of age, representing 67 percent (274 000) (in 2019) of all fatalities from malaria globally.
The vaccine was most effective against Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest and most common type of malaria, but it did not provide complete protection against the disease.