Thursday, August 26, 2021

Malaria Breakthrough?

 A new approach to protecting young African children from malaria could reduce deaths and illness from the disease by 70%, a study suggests.

Giving them vaccines before the worst season in addition to preventative drugs produced "very striking" results, researchers say. No concerning side-effects were found in children in the trial

Over three years, the trial found three doses of the vaccine and drugs before the worst malaria season, followed by a booster dose before subsequent rainy seasons, controlled infections much better than vaccines or drugs alone - and, the researchers said, could save millions of young lives in the African Sahel.

Scientists say the combined effects of the vaccine and drugs in the trial appear to be surprisingly powerful.

The vaccine - called RTS,S and created by GlaxoSmithKline more than 20 years ago - kills parasites that multiply very quickly in the liver, while anti-malarial drugs target parasites in the body's red blood cells. Flu vaccines have been used seasonally, to protect people ahead of winter, for many years - but it has rarely been tried for malaria.

Most of the 400,000 deaths from malaria each year are in the under-fives. And the mosquito-borne disease is still a major health issue in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

"It worked better than we thought would be the case," said Prof Brian Greenwood, a member of the research team, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), which led the trial. "Hospital admissions were less, deaths were less in both countries - and we really didn't expect to see that."

Trial suggests malaria sickness could be cut by 70% - BBC News

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