How Close Are We to a Malaria Vaccine?

Malaria has been around for a thousand years and affects 200 million people globally. But right now, several promising vaccines are in development or trials. If approved, a vaccine could change the world forever.

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Before COVID, many other diseases plagued our world…and they haven’t simply gone away. In fact, the current pandemic has actually made many other epidemics even harder to treat and control.

But there’s good news on the horizon, because recent breakthroughs are bringing us more immunity than we’ve ever had before to one of the world’s oldest and deadliest infectious diseases. That disease is malaria. It affects over 200 MILLION people and kills about half a million people every year.

It’s actually one of the world’s leading causes of death for children under 5. And it’s been around for literal millenia. Like, we have evidence for this parasite as far back as the neolithic period, and we still don’t have a handle on it…why?!

See, when we make a vaccine, we’re trying to get your body to protect itself by introducing it to the parts of the pathogen that would make you sick, what’s called an antigen. For COVID, that’s the viral spike protein. But parasites are generally much more complex pathogens than bacteria or viruses, so those antigens are more complicated. But there are some on the horizon.

#vaccines #malaria #epidemiology #science #seeker #elements

Read More:
Malaria vaccine shows promise — now come tougher trials
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01096-7
It took researchers less than a year to develop a roster of effective vaccines against COVID-19, but half a century of toil has still not yielded a vaccine against malaria that meets the World Health Organization’s efficacy goal. Part of the problem is low investment in preventing a disease that predominately affects low- and middle-income countries.

Malaria vaccine hailed as potential breakthrough
https://www.bbc.com/news/health-56858158
A malaria vaccine has proved to be 77% effective in early trials and could be a major breakthrough against the disease, says the University of Oxford team behind it.

Malaria is notoriously hard to vaccinate against. A new vaccine technology might change that.
https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/22307700/malaria-rna-vaccines-covid-19
Despite decades of research, only one malaria vaccine so far has passed muster. It has fairly low efficacy — perhaps around 30 percent — and requires a series of four shots, which makes it a challenge to administer in poor, rural areas where malaria often hits the hardest.

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