When the results of a large clinical trial testing the effectiveness of the RTS,S malaria vaccine among children in Africa are made available later this year, “it will be time to start discussing what to do with the vaccine,” Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University, writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece. “If the vaccine is safe and effective, one of the most important questions will be how to pay for it … and even though Andrew Witty, the CEO of the vaccine’s manufacturer, GSK, has promised to price the vaccine at a point just above its production cost, this price may still end up being too high for many malaria-affected countries to pay for it,” he writes.
“An experimental malaria vaccine tested on children in Burkina Faso has shown ‘a high level of efficacy’ in protecting against the disease, a study published in” Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine said, according to Agence France-Presse. The research, which “was initially planned to study the safety and immune response of the vaccine, known by the name MSP3 … was led by scientists from the National Center for Research and Training on Malaria in Burkina Faso, the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the Paris-based Pasteur Institute,” the news agency writes.
While the number of malaria deaths has fallen by one-fifth over the past decade globally, according to a report released by Roll Back Malaria on Monday, “India is still recording high numbers of deaths, which some experts say are underestimated,” Agence France-Presse reports. The WHO “says about 5,000 children and 10,000 adults die each year from malaria in India,” AFP reports, adding, “However a study published last year by the Lancet said there are more than 200,000 malaria deaths each year and that WHO’s reporting is flawed.”
Worldwide, the number of malaria deaths has “fallen by a fifth over the past decade, reflecting an influx of funds to fight the disease with better drugs and mosquito nets, Roll Back Malaria (RBM) said” in a report (.pdf) released on Monday, Agence France-Presse reports. “In a press release, [RBM] claimed a 38 percent reduction in deaths over the decade, a figure based on world population growth and what would have happened if the mortality trend in 2000 had been maintained to 2009 without anti-malaria intervention,” according to the news agency (9/12).”The WHO, which helped set up the RBM partnership, has also said the world can stop malaria deaths by 2015 if massive investment is made to ramp up control measures, but this is seen by some experts as an ambitious target,” Reuters writes (Kelland, 9/12).
Reducing Malaria Incidence Could Also Drastically Reduce Deaths From Bacterial Infections, Study Says
“Reducing the incidence of malaria could also drastically reduce the number of deaths from bacterial infections among children in Africa, a study” published last week in the Lancet found, according to SciDev.Net. “‘Children who are protected from malaria are less likely to catch bacterial infections. It therefore means that controlling malaria will give an additional benefit,’ Anthony Scott, the lead author and a researcher at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, in Kenya, told SciDev.Net.”
Candidate Malaria Vaccine Represents 'Potentially Encouraging Anti-Malaria Strategy,' Researchers Say
A team of researchers led by Stephen Hoffman of Sanaria Inc. have created a candidate malaria vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly of the malaria parasites, using live but weakened parasites that “represents a potentially encouraging anti-malaria strategy,” an NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases press release reports. The findings of the research, which “was conducted by scientists at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, working in concert with a large team of collaborators,” were published in Thursday’s online issue of Science, the press release states (9/8).
In this article in The American, a journal of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Roger Bate, the Legatum Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Richard Tren, director of Africa Fighting Malaria, write that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria “launched a $225 million facility that offers subsidized malaria drugs …provid[ing] subsidies so that shops can sell relatively expensive drugs at low cost, thereby using the reach and power of markets to save lives,” they write, adding that the mechanism “is perverting the market for malaria drugs and could do more harm than good.” The authors call on Congress to examine the subsidy system, writing, “The United States is not funding the subsidy, but the subsidy is harming programs the United States is supporting. Understanding and then stopping wasteful spending decisions would save money and lives” (9/8).
Guyana Coast At Risk Of Malaria Resurgence As Climate Change Brings Warmer Temperatures, More Rainfall
“Guyana is battling to prevent the spread of malaria as climate change brings higher temperatures and more rainfall, threatening to push the disease back into densely populated coastal regions,” AlertNet reports. The majority of malaria cases occur in the northwest of the small South American country, [b]ut recently, the mosquito-borne disease has also been found in an adjoining coastal region, as well as further inland to the east and south,” the news service writes.
“Children who live in households that own at least one insecticide-treated bed net (ITNs) are less likely to be infected with malaria and less likely to die from the disease, according to a new study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington,” published today in PLoS Medicine, according to an IHME press release (9/6).
“Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh is facing disaster once more with heavy rains over the past five days, according to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA),” with at least 85 people reported dead and more than two million people affected, IRIN reports (9/5). Sharjeel Memon, Sindh’s information minister, said mobile health teams carrying malaria vaccinations and food aid have been sent to the affected districts, according to Bloomberg. “Pakistan suffered its deadliest floods last year, in which 1,800 people were killed and an area the size of Italy was devastated,” the news agency notes (Anis, 9/5).