The good news first — after a 30 year research, we finally have a viable vaccine ready for malaria. But the bad news is that it can mainly fight only the strain most prevalent in Africa and not in India. British pharma co GlaxoSmithKline has announced its vaccine Mosquirix — the world's first vaccine against the most dreaded vector borne disease, which has been recommended for a license for use on babies in Africa.
The European Medicines Agency has endorsed it and now, it will need the approval of health officials in sub-Saharan Africa where the disease affected 19 crore people in 2013. The World Health Organization will also examine the vaccine, which costs just $5. The vaccine targets a particular type of malaria (plasmodium falciparum) found almost exclusively in sub-Saharan Africa. It is not effective against the plasmodium vivax malaria parasite, quite common in Asia. Thus, it will not be a vaccine for India. However, the company does plan to make one for India in the next phase.
The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has given a positive opinion on the malaria vaccine also known as RTS,S, in children aged 6 weeks to 17 months. Following this, the World Health Organization (WHO) will now recommend the vaccine for national immunization programmes once it is approved by national regulatory authorities.
The results had shown that vaccination with RTS,S, followed by a booster dose given 18 months after the primary schedule, reduced the number of cases in children by 36% over four years. In infants aged 6-12 weeks, it reduced malaria cases by only 26% over 38 months. Its effectiveness decreased over time in both age groups. Without the booster dose, the three-dose vaccine reduced malaria cases by 28% in children and 18% in infants.