Malawi will be testing ground for large-scale pilot tests for the world’s most advanced experimental malaria vaccine.
Test was done in a bid to prevent the disease that kills hundreds of thousands across Africa each year. After more than three decades in development and almost USD 1 billion in investment, the cutting-edge trial will be rolled out in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe this week and then in Kenya and Ghana next week. It aims to immunise 120,000 children aged two years and under to assess the effectiveness of the pilot vaccine and whether the delivery process is feasible. Four successive doses must be administered on a strict timetable for it to work.
Trade-named Mosquirix, the drug has been developed by British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. Trial test yeilded positive results in the previous scientific testing — including five years of clinical trials on 15,000 people in seven countries — and was approved for the pilot programme in 2015. Malaria episodes reduced by 40 percent in the trials. Although the potential vaccine will not give full protection against the mosquito-borne disease, it is the furthest along in development and so far the most effective. Scientists say if it was rolled out on a large-scale it could save hundreds of thousands of lives. The World Health Organisation (WHO) believes that the new vaccine brings a key new tool beyond mosquito nets, insecticides and drugs in the battle against the disease.