Vaccine reduces malaria in children by 36 percent

Written by  Gladys Nthenda

The final results of the large scale Phase Three Trial of the RTS’s Malaria vaccine and the impact of a booster dose indicates that the vaccine helped protect children and infants from clinical malaria for at least three years after first vaccination.

Some of the children attacked by malaria Some of the children attacked by malaria

The results showed that the vaccination with RTS’s followed by an booster dose administered 18 months after the primary one, reduced cases of clinical malaria in children aged 5-17 months by 36 percent and by 26 percent in infants aged 6-12 weeks.

The effectiveness of the vaccine was evaluated taking into consideration existing malaria control measures such as insecticide treated bed nets which were used by 80 percent of the children and infants in the trial.

Releasing the results in Lilongwe on Friday, University of North Carolina (UNC) Country Director Professor Francis Martinson, described the results as a breakthrough in the medical history following many years of research of a malaria vaccine.

“Malawi has tried for a long time to reduce the burden of malaria in children. The efforts have paid off in the last couple of years as the prevalence has reduced,”Martinson pointed out.

“However malaria still continues to be a huge burden on the health sector with children being the most affected. So we need to continue to look for other tools to add to the existing prevention measures to further protect our children from getting malaria,” said Martinson the Principal Investigator of the trial in Malawi.

He saluted the children and parents who through their participation have contributed to this successful story in malaria prevention adding that he looks forward to the day the children will go to the clinic to be vaccinated and protected against the disease.

According to the results, in the 5-17 month age category of children who received a booster dose, an average of 1774 cases of clinical malaria were prevented for every 1,000 children vaccinated across trial sites at the end of the study.

In the absence of a booster dose, 1363 clinical malaria cases were prevented on average, for every 1,000 children aged 5-7 months at the end of study.
It was conducted in 11 research centres in seven countries including Malawi, in partnership with Glasko Smith Kline (GSK) and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative with grant funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
To be submitted to the European Medicines Agency and shared with appropriate agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the findings will contribute to ongoing discussions with respective governments as to how the vaccine can be used in addition to existing prevention tools in treating malaria.
The study, which enrolled 15,459 participants mostly from areas such as Kauma, Area 25, Mgona and Mtandire started in March 2009 and concluded in January 2014.

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