The New England Journal of Medicine reported yesterday in two on-line publications, that the RTS,S malaria vaccine showed about 50% efficacy in two trials. If further trials prove successful, the vaccine would help protect against malaria.
In one study in Tanzania the vaccine was given to babies 8-16 weeks old, along with other childhood vaccines. The number of serious health issues associated with the malaria vaccine was not found to be different in a statistically significant way than the control vaccine Hepatis B. In addition to being considered as safe as other vaccines, the malaria vaccine stimulated the production of antibodies in the infants, and decreased the number of infections by half.
In the second study babies 5 to 17 months were given either a malaria or rabies vaccine. Again, the number of incidents related to the vaccine was not higher in the malaria vaccine. Fewer of the malaria vaccine recipients got malaria compared to the rabies vaccine, which translated to a efficacy rate of over 50%.
The RTS,S vaccine, in development for decades, is a product of GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals and Seattle's PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative funded by the Gates Foundation. The next hurdle for the vaccine candidate will be Phase III Clinical Trials, which will help determine if the vaccine is over effective over time for target patient groups. This is one of several malaria vaccines in development.