In 2019 there were around 229 million malaria cases worldwide, with an estimated 409,000 deaths in the same year, according to the WHO. Malaria is a deadly disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to humans by the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. There are 5 types of parasites that cause malaria in humans and 2 of these types, ” P. falciparum ” and ” P. vivax ” pose the greatest threat. But this Wednesday American researchers announced that they had developed a vaccine that offers an unprecedented level of protection.
“One hundred percent protection for three months”
According to the current Global Malaria Report of November 30, 2020, the “African region” continues to bear a disproportionate share of the global malaria burden. In 2019, the region was home to 94% of all malaria cases and deaths, with 6 countries responsible for roughly half of all malaria deaths worldwide: Nigeria (23%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11%), Tanzania (5%) , Burkina Faso (4%), Mozambique (4%) and Niger (4%). This situation could change if the ongoing clinical studies, especially in Mali, prove conclusive.
A phase 2 clinical trial with a new malaria vaccine is currently underway in Mali. In “phase 1” clinical studies with the vaccine, the regimen was found to provide unprecedented lasting protection when volunteers were subsequently exposed to pathogenic malaria parasites. The studies are being carried out by US researchers such as Dr. Patrick E. Duffy of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Dr. Stephen L. Hoffman, CEO of Sanaria, a US biotech development company.
The vaccine called “PfSPZ” consists of “sporozoites”, the form of the malaria pathogen that is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. And combines resistant parasites with one of two widely used antimalarial drugs in an approach called “chemoprophylactic vaccination.” And according to the preliminary results of their research, the researchers said they had succeeded in developing a “three months one hundred percent protective vaccine against heterologous variants of parasites”. Which, in their opinion, is unprecedented for any malaria vaccine in development.