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With Possible 'Major Public Health Impact,' Malaria Vaccine Advances

Research publication on effectiveness of new vaccine follows announcement by pharmaceutical corporation GlaxoSmithKline that it is applying for first ever approval of anti-malaria vaccine on EU markets.

The Anopheles stephensi mosquito is a vector of malaria. (Photo: CDC/ Dr. William Collins)

The Anopheles stephensi mosquito is a vector of malaria. (Photo: CDC/ Dr. William Collins)

An experimental anti-malaria vaccine manufactured by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has shown promise at preventing the mosquito-born disease among children and infants, a new study finds.

The publication follows GSK's announcement last week that it is applying for approval from European Union regulatory bodies to put the first-ever malaria vaccine on the market.

Published Tuesday in PLOS Medicine, the vaccine research followed the infection rates of 6,537 infants (6 to 12 weeks old) and 8,923 children (5 to 17 months old) who were administered the vaccine at "11 African Sites" where Malaria is prevalent.


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Over the course of 18 months, the researchers found that the vaccine "averted an average of 829 and 449 cases of clinical malaria per 1,000 children and infants vaccinated, respectively."

According to the study's authors, the findings show significant effectiveness and suggest that the vaccine "could have a major public health impact in sub-Saharan Africa."

Malaria disproportionately affects poor and rural communities in the global south, hitting sub-Saharan Africa the hardest. Despite being preventable and curable if addressed promptly, the disease is a top cause of death and illness throughout the developing world, killing approximately 1.2 million people a year, the vast majority of them children.

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