Positive results announced this week from a large clinical trial testing the efficacy of the RTS,S malaria vaccine are “encouraging,” but they are also “a reminder of how much work remains to be done,” an Economist editorial reports. The WHO abandoned its first efforts to eradicate the disease 14 years after setting out to do so in 1955, but “a new wave of enthusiasm,” beginning in 1998 with the establishment of the Roll Back Malaria partnership and culminating with Bill Gates’s call for malaria eradication four years ago, “has helped to lower the number of malaria deaths by 20 percent over the past decade,” the editorial states.
The Guardian features an interview with Moncef Slaoui, now chair of research and development at GlaxoSmithKline, who discusses his 23-year involvement in the research leading to the RTS,S malaria vaccine that has shown to halve the risk of malaria among African children. Slaoui said cellular immunity is the key to the vaccine’s success and research on the vaccine has advanced the company’s knowledge of adjuvants, substances that stimulate the immune system, which has allowed the development of other vaccines (Boseley, 10/19).
Noting advances in bednet, mosquito repellent and malaria vaccine technologies, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in a post on the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, “People used to say eradication was impossible, but we remain optimistic because human beings have a spectacular ability to innovate.”…
In this Guardian opinion piece, the newspaper’s health editor, Sarah Boseley, responds to the positive results of a large-scale clinical trial of an experimental malaria vaccine reported on Tuesday and recaps other strides made against the disease in recent years, writing that “there is a way to go yet, with more results from the trial to come, and many uncertainties, including how much this vaccine will cost and who will be persuaded to pay.”
“Eradicating malaria is not a vague, unrealistic aspiration but a tough, ambitious goal that can be reached within the next few decades,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said on Tuesday at the international Malaria Forum in Seattle, Reuters reports. “Gates said a renewed focus and substantial increases in funding for malaria … was steadily ‘shrinking the malaria map’ and would continue to do so,” and he “pointed to Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and Ethiopia as ‘likely early candidates’ for being able to eliminate the disease from within their borders in the near future,” according to the news service (Kelland, 10/19).
Experimental Vaccine Halves Risk Of Malaria In African Children, Results Of Large Clinical Trial Suggest
“An experimental vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline halved the risk of African children getting malaria in a major clinical trial, making it likely to become the world’s first shot against the deadly disease,” according to a study “presented at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Malaria Forum conference in Seattle and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine” on Tuesday, Reuters reports. Analysis of data from the first 6,000 children to participate in “a final-stage Phase III clinical trial conducted at 11 trial sites in seven countries across sub-Saharan Africa … found that after 12 months of follow-up, three doses of RTS,S reduced the risk of children experiencing clinical malaria and severe malaria by 56 percent and 47 percent, respectively,” the news service writes (Kelland, 10/18). The vaccine was developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, and the study was partially funded by the Gates Foundation, Inter Press Service notes (Whitman, 10/18).
Environmental health experts, scientists and government officials attending a conference in London sponsored by the British Medical Journal on Monday “issued a statement warning that climate change could not only bring a global health catastrophe but could threaten global stability and security as well, a journal release said,” UPI.com reports (10/17).
“Thousands of lives and years of gains made against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria could be lost if proportional reductions are made to achieve the $1.2 trillion in spending reductions required by the Budget Control Act of 2011,” according to a report (.pdf) issued on Monday by the Foundation for AIDS…
As the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hosts the second international Malaria Forum in Seattle this week, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, in this entry in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog reflects on the advances made in the fight against malaria since the first Malaria Forum four years ago. She writes that “we’re seeing great promise using communications technologies in malaria endemic countries” and highlights social media campaigns conducted by Malaria No More and the U.N.’s social media advocacy group, Social Media Envoys. She concludes, “We have seen that everyone can make a difference, no matter their location. … The rest is up to you” (10/17).
Nearly One-Third Of All Countries Affected By Malaria On Course To Eliminate Disease, WHO Report Says
“Nearly a third of all countries affected by malaria are on course to eliminate the mosquito-borne disease over the next 10 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday … [i]n a progress report (.pdf) published by the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership at the start of an international Malaria Forum conference in Seattle,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 10/17). “The [WHO] has awarded malaria-free certification to three nations in the past four years, according to the report,” Agence France-Presse notes, adding, “If current successes in the fight against malaria continue, more than three million lives can be saved by 2015 with the elimination of the disease in eight to 10 countries, RBM said” (10/17).