October 15, 2004

Possible vaccine against malaria in sight

Clinical tests of a product candidate to be a vaccine against malaria, the RTS/ASO2A, that were carried out by the Manhica Health Reaserach Centyre, in the southern Mozambican province of Maputo, revealed its efficacy and safety to reduce this disease, that has been the main cause of deaths in Mozambique and in Africa at large.
The tests, which covered a total of 2.022 children, showed a 30 per cent efficacy on clinically detectable malaria (with symptoms), 45 per cent on non-symptomatic cases, and 58 per cent on severe malaria cases. The results show that the product protected for at least six months a significant number of children against non-complicated malaria, against infection, and even against severe cases of the disease. This was the most important study carried out in Africa, and it reconfirmed its efficacy in children aged between 1 and 4. The tests had the approval of the country's Health ministry, with fundings from the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and by the Malaria Vaccine Intiatives (MVI) of PATH, and were carried out by the Manhica Health Research Centre. As part of this programme, the centre was rehabilitated, and hosted courses on transmission of basic of the disease to the local communities, among other actions.
Estimations are that Africa is spending about 12 billion US$ a year in programmes against malaria that kills between one and three million people in the poorest countries around the world, and is the main cause of death among children in the Sub-Saharian Africa. Malaria Vaccines Initiative is a global programme that received a 100 million US$ funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Manhica centre was selected for the vaccine tests in the African continent. (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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