The first malaria vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization. There were an estimated 229 million cases of the life-threatening disease in 2019.
Laura Harrington is a professor of entomology at Cornell University and expert in global health issues and vector-borne diseases. She studies the biology, ecology and behavior of mosquitoes that transmit human diseases – specially malaria. She says while the vaccine isn’t perfect, it could be combined with other prevention efforts to have the greatest impact on saving lives.
“Many consider a highly effective malaria vaccine to be the ‘holy grail’ of tropical medicine. The news that GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine has meet the standards for WHO endorsement is significant progress towards that goal.
“The Mosquirix vaccine is not perfect, it requires at least 4 doses which can be logistically challenging, and immunity wanes quickly. However, the vaccine could be combined with other malaria prevention efforts such as mosquito control and intermittent preventative treatment to have the greatest impact on saving lives.
“While the world is heavily focused on the COVID-19 pandemic it may be hard to remember that malaria consistently kills a tremendous number of the world’s most vulnerable children annually.”