Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First malaria vaccination programme underway

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has performed clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of a vaccine that is supposed to prevent the deadly disease malaria. Results show that a shot with the new drug halves the risk of acquiring a bad form of malaria, when it was tested in African children. Because of its effectiveness, it is very likely that the vaccine developed by the UK based company will be the world's first vaccine against malaria.
Infection of the parasite in human blood cells, causing maleria.
The compound was tested on children of 17 months old, and was shown to reduce the severity of malaria. However, the scientists that developed the vaccine claim that it is not effective enough to completely rid the world of the disease. But because malaria is highly prevalent, and the severe form is the most lethal, it will surely prevent a lot of deaths. The vaccine was tested in 6000 children, and their health was assessed up to one year later. They found that the risk of clinical and severe maleria was reduced by 56 and 47 percent, respectively. The trials are still going on, and the vaccination programme will likely continue because of its efficacy.

Malaria is a major problem in African countries. The disease is spread by mosquitoes, that carry the micro-organism that actually causes the disease. There are about 225.000 million cases of malaria each year, and almost 800.000 people die as a result of the infection. It is the world's most prevalent parasitic disease and is mostly found in Africa. 

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