(From Reuters) An experimental malaria vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline provides African children with long-lasting protection, though its effectiveness declines slightly over time, according to recently published trial data. Scientists conducting the mid-stage trial at the Kenya Medical Research Institute said results showing the shot offered 46 percent protection for 15 months meant it had “promise as a potential public health intervention against childhood malaria in malaria endemic countries.”
Malaria is an infectious disease spread by mosquitoes that threatens up to half the world’s population. Most of its victims are children under five in poor countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Late-stage trials of the GSK vaccine, known as RTS,S or Mosquirix, in 16,000 children in seven countries across Africa are ongoing, with immunizations due to end next month. If data show the vaccine was effective, it could be licensed and rolled out as soon as 2015.
GSK chief executive Andrew Witty has said that if RTS,S proved effective in final-stage trials it would be sold at a price that those who need it most can afford. The company has said it was planning for a profit margin of 5 percent over the cost of making the vaccine, and that would be reinvested in new vaccines for malaria and other neglected diseases.