February 20 – 23
Taj Diplomatic Enclave
New Delhi, India
PATH’s Vaccine Resource Library (VRL) features an extensive online database of high-quality, scientifically accurate materials on specific diseases, vaccines, and topics in immunization addressed by PATH’s work. This user-friendly, database-driven site grew out of PATH’s seminal Children’s Vaccine Program (which started in 1998), and evolved into its current status as a well-respected, centralized repository for key global immunization resources. This week, the VRL debuted a new, mobile-friendly design that enhances the site’s accessibility and features many engaging new photos.
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health presents:
Updated Results of the RTS,S Malaria Vaccine Study
Bloomberg School of Public Health – W1020
Mary Hamel, MD
Medical Epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Senior Malaria Advisor for the President’s Malaria Initiative
Last week GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Intiative (MVI), announced that the world may be closer to a malaria vaccine than once thought. Working together, MVI and GSK announced results from a large scale trail in Africa testing the RTS,S vaccine which demonstrated a nearly 50% decrease in the number of cases among participants. This is an incredibly exciting and important announcement for the millions of people, including many children that suffer from this debilitating and deadly disease.
In the announcement, Halidou Tinto, Principal Investigator from the Nanoro, Burkina Faso trial site and chair of the Clinical Trials Partnership Committee, said “It appears that the RTS,S candidate vaccine has the potential to have a significant public health impact…preventing substantial numbers of malaria cases in a community would mean fewer hospital beds filled with sick children. Families would lose less time and money caring for these children and have more time for work or other activities. And of course the children themselves would reap the benefits of better health.”
Steve Davis, President and CEO of PATH writes, “Together with our partners, we are proud of this work to advance the development of another potential tool in controlling, and eventually, eliminating malaria.”
Despite the hard work of many dedicated global organizations, malaria remains one of the greatest threats to life in the developing world. Particularly as we look to Sub-Saharan Africa, we find some astounding statistics. Each year, over half a million people die from malaria and more than 216 million contract the disease – mostly children younger than five. The disease not only causes loss of life, but loss of income, costing Africa an estimated $12 billion in lost productivity.
After 12 months of follow up, as reported last year, RTS,S was seen to prevent more than 50% of cases of malaria in 5 to 17 month-olds. After 18 months, that number dropped to just below 50%. Though this vaccine candidate is moderately productive and fails to reach the levels some experts advocate, it is hard to deny the impact it could have and we are eager to learn how a booster dose affects efficacy when the final set of data is made public in 2014. Even though a number of good preventative measures like bed nets and insecticide treatments have significant contributed to reducing malaria, none have the potential on their own to have the kind of impact a vaccine could have in achieving eradication. Implementing these measures together with a malaria vaccine holds promise for greatly reducing the burden of the disease at new and greater levels.
A vaccine would also help address poverty-related obstacles that are difficult for treatment approaches to overcome. Many suffering from the illness simply don’t have the time or ability to visit the hospital or get medications. In the places where malaria is most pervasive, clinics and hospitals are few and far between, making it all the more difficult to treat this disease. Combined with improper use and uneven distribution of existing treatment options, the potential implications that an effective vaccine could bring to the table are so great that even modest advancements in the development of a vaccine.
According to the release, GSK intends to take significant steps forward, submitting the vaccine to EU regulators next year. If favorably considered, they will seek a policy recommendation from the WHO in 2015, which would pave the pay for introduction to African countries.
Let’s all hope they succeed.
This post was written by Olivia Noble, Associate at Global Health Council.
As the Gates Foundation hosts a global forum on malaria, Bill Gates commits to the eradication of the disease.
For the past three days, the global malaria community has been meeting in Seattle, talking about what it’s going to take to get rid of the other 80 percent. The eradication of malaria is an ambitious goal and a long-term goal-but a goal Melinda and I are 100 percent committed to.
People used to say eradication was impossible, but we remain optimistic because human beings have a spectacular ability to innovate.
The tool that’s most associated with the recent progress against malaria is the long-lasting bed net. Bed nets are a fantastic innovation. But we can do even better. We can invent new ways to control the mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite.
One of the problems with nets is that they can be uncomfortable to sleep under, so people sometimes choose not to. Researchers are testing spatial repellents that drive mosquitoes away right now. A family could hang a small coil from the ceiling and be protected, without having to accept a terrible night’s sleep.
One innovation the malaria community has been pursuing for decades is a vaccine. We have never had a vaccine for a parasitic disease, and the scientific complexity is dizzying. But at this week’s meetings I was pleased to announce interim results from the final phase of a trial for a vaccine candidate called RTS,S. Among five to 17-month-old children, the vaccine prevented clinical malaria (which was defined as the presence of fever and parasites in a child who was ill and brought to a health facility for care), in 56 percent of trial participants over a period of one year. We still need to analyze the complete data when it’s available, but this vaccine could be licensed and protecting children by 2015.
We’ll keep on innovating and improving on this vaccine, but these results are a huge milestone in the history of our fight against malaria.
The malaria parasite has been killing children and sapping the strength of whole populations for tens of thousands of years. It is impossible to calculate the harm malaria has done to the world. But we have the ability to make generation after generation of better tools, and we can chart a course to end malaria.