Health: The World Gets Its First Malaria Vaccine

The first malaria vaccine known as RTS,S or Mosquirix has been approved by European drug regulators today (Friday).The drug developed by GlaxoSmithKline in partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, would be the first licensed human vaccine against a parasitic disease and could help prevent millions of cases of malaria in countries that use it.

The drug is effective for use in babies in Africa according to a report by Reuters. It still faces hurdles before being rolled out in Africa, including winning agreement from governments and other funders that it is worth using, since it offers only partial protection. Mosquirix, also part-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,is not the complete answer to malaria but will be effective alongside other preventive measures like insecticides and mosquito nets.  The vaccine has been assessed for quality, safety and efficacy under a special procedure that allows the EMA to evaluate a product even if it will not be marketed in the European Union.

GlaxoSmithKline has worked on Mosquirix (RTS,S)for 30 years, the vaccine also contains an adjuvant, or booster, made by U.S. biotech company Agenus. Few experts have underlined their reservations, that the complexities and potential costs of deploying Mosquirix when it provides only partial protection make it less attractive and more risky. According to the manufacturers the vaccine will not be sold to make profit and any marginal profits will be ploughed back into research on malaria and other tropical diseases. World Health Organization, has given its word that it would provide guidance for the vaccine this year.