It’s amazing news for world health and Africa in general. The first malaria vaccine will be soon released, and the prospects of a vaccine for a disease that kills e child every minute in Africa are really, quite hard to comprehend for those of us living so far away from the reality of malaria.
Yet, as with every new drug, there is bound to be controversy.
With a name like Mosquirix, or RTS,S, to use the official one, you can’t really understand why there would be opposition to its regulatory widespread use. Still, the danger that is malaria needs to be restated:
As I have said above, with information from the WHO (World Health Organization), malaria kills a child in Africa for every minute that passes. This may sound like a cliché that you’ve probably heard all around, but it is nonetheless true, and must not be dismissed just because it is such a common saying. On the contrary, it should help raise awareness.
Also according to Fact sheet number 94 by the WHO, malaria was the cause of some 584 thousand deaths in the year 2013. This is an estimate, since the real number is unknown. Why? Because, as you may have forgotten, many countries in Africa still do not have a working health system, with some barely having any healthcare at all. There could’ve been about 200 thousand deaths more than that estimate that we just don’t know about because there are no medical files confirming them.
And these numbers have still been greatly reduced. Back in 2000, it was 47% higher globally, and 54% in Africa. This was made solely through the efforts of WHO and of funding from charity like Bill Gates’ Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The main breakthrough that has happened this week is that the European Medicines Agency (or the EMA, the EU’s version of our own FDA) has said that the vaccine is safe, and it can be used without a cause for concern on babies who are at risk of infection in Africa.
Still, the naysayers are criticizing the drug by saying that it clearly will not deliver the 50% efficiency which it is expected to reach. From this perspective, it is understandable why the 97% efficiency desired by GlaxoSmithKline seems like little more than a dream.
Yet, GSK says that while one hopes for 100% efficiency and protection, it is clearly not achievable, since one child does not have one case of sever malaria per year, but instead can get it up to six times.
Still the vaccine will go forward. With all the tests involved and the paperwork done, 2017 was set as the year for it to be delivered. Still, by then, there will have been deaths hundreds-of-thousands too many.
Image source: siliconrepublic.com