A new malaria vaccine developed by researchers at the Oxford University and scientists from Burkina Faso has proven 77% effective against the disease in early trials – a figure far higher than any existing treatments.
The study, published in the Lancet, involved 450 children from Burkina Faso – and will now move to large-scale trials.
More than 4,800 children below three years will be recruited in the next trial. This will take place in Burkina Faso, Mali, Kenya and Tanzania.
“These are very exciting results showing unprecedented efficacy levels from a vaccine that has been well tolerated in our trial programme. We look forward to the upcoming phase III trial to demonstrate large-scale safety and efficacy data for a vaccine that is greatly needed in this region,” said Halidou Tinto, a professor in parasitology and the regional director of the institute of health sciences (IRSS) in Burkina Faso.
Finding an effective malaria vaccine is seen as one of the holy grail of medical research. This could be a major breakthrough.
The disease kills more than 400,000 people a year – many of them children in sub-Saharan Africa.
There’s currently only one vaccine available – but it is less than 50% effective.
In stage two trials, this new vaccine had an efficacy rate of 77%. It will now move to larger tests – done across four African countries.
The nearly 5,000 participants will be children under three years old.
This new treatment is not yet proven. But – it will be seen as an incredibly promising development in a year in which vaccines have proven just how important they are.