Malaria Vaccine Trial Offers 'Real Hope' For Saving Millions Of Lives
Scientists in Britain have welcomed news that a trial of a vaccine for malaria has halved the number of cases in young children.
Interim results of testing of a vaccine called RTS,S developed by GlaxoSmithKline showed it had halved the number of cases in children between five and 17 months.
Professor Brian Greenwood of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who has contributed to the project and co-authored the paper detailing the results, said at a conference in Seattle: "The School is pleased to have been able to contribute in various ways to the success of this important trial of the malaria vaccine RTS,S.
"The interim results of this trial confirm the efficacy of this vaccine in infants and older children and take it a further step along the road to becoming the first malaria vaccine to be licensed and used in public health programmes. We now have confirmation of its promise as a potentially valuable tool in malaria control."
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: "Vaccine research is very important and these results offer real hope for the future. An effective, long-lasting and cost-effective vaccine would make a major contribution to malaria control.
"We need to understand how and in what circumstances a vaccine would be effectively delivered as part of a malaria prevention strategy and made accessible to the world's poorest people.
"But we must not lose sight of the fact that over two thousand people die from malaria every day and they need help now.
"Britain's focus remains on driving down this terrible loss of life by preventing and treating malaria with the tools we have now and tackling resistance."
The vaccine itself is thought to be still at least three years away. More testing must be completed to see how well it works and how long protection lasts.
It targets a malaria parasite found in sub-Saharan Africa.