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Dosing of GSK's malaria vaccine due to start in 2018

WHO sanctions pilot programme in sub-Saharan Africa to begin gathering field data
Malaria

Funding has now been secured for vaccination programmes using GlaxoSmithKline's malaria vaccine RTS,S, with the people due to receive the shots in 2018.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the pilot programmes will take place in sub-Saharan Africa and will "provide the evidence we need from real-life settings to make informed decisions on whether to deploy the vaccine on a wide scale," according to the international agency's Global Malaria Programme director Dr Pedro Alonso.

GSK's vaccine – also known as Mosquirix – is considered to have limited efficacy, but the sheer scale of the public health problem posed by malaria in some areas of the world has prompted the WHO to press ahead with field trials.

RTS,S, acts against Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa. P. falciparum affects 214 million people a year and kills around 438,000. It has been shown in clinical trials to have an initial protection rate of around 31-56%, depending on the age of the patient, although efficacy seems to decline after the first year.

Another malaria vaccine developed by US biopharma company Sanaria – called PfSPZ – has been shown to offer improved protection rates, possibly as high as 80%, as well as a duration of action of at least 14 months.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has just approved $15m in funding for the malaria vaccine pilots, that according to the WHO assures full funding for the first phase of the programme. That extra block of cash added to a $27.5m commitment from the Gavi Vaccine Alliance and $9.6m from UNITAID earlier this year for the first four years of the programme.

GSK acknowledges that RTS,S on its own is not the complete answer to malaria, but says its use alongside other things such as bed nets and insecticides, could provide a "very meaningful contribution to controlling the impact of malaria on children in those African communities that need it the most".

Article by
Phil Taylor

18th November 2016

From: Research

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