Doctor's View Archive

Malaria Vaccine Battle Has Been WON

Medical Authors and Editors: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D. and Frederick Hecht, M.D.

October 15, 2004 -- A malaria vaccine has protected a significant percentage of children against uncomplicated malaria, infection, and even severe forms of the disease for at least six months, according to a proof-of-concept study published today in The Lancet. This was the largest malaria vaccine efficacy trial ever conducted in Africa. The trial also reconfirmed the vaccine's safety in one-to-four year old children.

Among infectious diseases, malaria is one of the world's biggest killers. It is estimated that malaria kills between one and three million people in the world's poorest countries every year, and more children in sub-Saharan Africa than any other infectious disease.

Headed from Spain

"Our results demonstrate the feasibility of developing an efficacious vaccine against malaria," wrote Dr. Pedro Alonso, adding that "...malaria vaccines could greatly contribute to reducing the intolerable global burden of this disease." Dr. Alonso, director of the Center for International Health of the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, Spain, headed this pioneering vaccine trial.

Tested in Mozambique

The double-blind, controlled trial involved over 2,000 children in southern Mozambique. The Minister of Health, Dr. Francisco Songane, said his nation was proud to be a part of such a groundbreaking study. "Malaria is the number one killer of African children. We did this not only for the people of Mozambique, but for the people all over Africa whose health and development suffer greatly from this terrible disease."