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Malaria Vaccine and Antimalarials Could Have Life-saving Impact

Malaria vaccine developed by British scientists could save the lives of millions of young children in developing countries. The jab, made by GlaxoSmithKline, reduced the risk of severe disease and death by more than 70%. The trial was conducted on nearly 6,000 children aged between five months and 17 months in Burkina Faso and Mali surpassed all expectations. Despite over a dozen vaccines being in development for Malaria, which kills more than 400,000 people a year globally, there is no approved medicine.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who carried out the latest trial are confident that the World Health Organization will recommend the vaccine when an expert panel meets in October. The pharmaceutical giant has explained how much the medicine will cost but claims it was developed to contribute to global health rather than make large profits.

Children in Africa are currently prescribed antimalarial medicines four times each year during certain seasons to guard against the disease. Around 400,000 people die every year from Malaria globally, with children accounting for more than two-thirds of the fatalities, 90% of which occur in sub-Saharan Africa.Children are particularly prone to because they have yet to develop the necessary immunity to defend themselves against the disease. If the children are infected, the parasite multiplies quickly and destroys their red blood cells, causing fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and anemia – a lack of red blood cells in the body.

The pharmaceutical company’s vaccine contains a protein also found on the Malaria parasite, which is combined with a hepatitis B protein. Together, they form non-infectious particles which appear virus-like to the immune system and train it to fend off the real Malaria parasite.

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