Vaccine slashes malaria risk by half

January 14th, 2011 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 14 (IANS) A vaccine that slashes malaria risk by 50 percent could practically save hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

The latest study indicates that the jab reduces the risk of malaria infection by 46 percent over 15 months.

Of the 900,000 people killed by the disease across Africa every year, the majority are children under five, The Lancet journal reports.

In the phase II clinical trial, 447 children from Kenya and Tanzania, aged five to 17 months, were given the RTS,S/AS01E vaccine, while the same number were given the rabies vaccine as a ‘control’ group, according to the Telegraph.

After 15 months, those who had the malaria vaccine were 46 percent less likely to have been infected with the P. Falciparum parasite than the control group.

Only 11.4 percent of those given the vaccine developed clinical malaria, compared to 19.7 percent of the other group.

Ally Olotu from the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, who led the study, concluded that the vaccine provides “sustained efficacy for at least 15 months…”

The vaccine works by attacking the parasite when it first enters the bloodstream or liver cells with the aim of completely preventing infection of red blood cells.

P. Falciparum is one of the four species of malaria parasite that affect humans. It is found globally but is most common in Africa. It is the only one of the four species that can cause life-threatening malaria, according to the Wellcome Trust.

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