Malaria is a devastating disease that afflicts 216 million people around the world every year – and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), about half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting the illness from parasite-bearing mosquitos. Now, for the first time, scientists have created a malaria vaccine that is 100% effective – and it could save thousands of lives every year.
Although the mortality rate for malaria has fallen by more than 25 percent globally since 2000, in Africa a child dies from the disease every minute. Fortunately, the disease is preventable and curable, and over the years the scientific community has made great strides to remedy the problem.
Researchers at Sanaria developed the PfSPZ vaccine using parasites from irradiated mosquitos. In the first phase of the trial, six subjects were injected with vaccine, and when exposed to the bite of malaria infected mosquitoes, they were fully protected. The vaccine’s effectiveness came as a surprise to the World Health Organization, which set a goal of developing a vaccine that is 80% effective by 2025.
There is still more testing to be done, and further trials are set to take place in Africa. To be most effective the vaccine needs to be administered intravenously – which is a further challenge that remains to be solved.