Malaria is a parasitic disease which contributes to around 1 million deaths each year with most numbers being children in the African region. It also gives rise to almost 250 million cases of Malaria each year amounting to millions of dollars in financial burden to countries where Malaria is an endemic disease. However, not all hope is lost in relation to eradicating Malaria in the future as scientists are gradually moving towards a viable malaria vaccine that may hold the key towards saving millions of innocent lives in regions where not even the basic needs such as food and water is in adequate supply.
The blue print for malaria vaccine production:
According to the global malaria community, a blueprint has been drafted and is in place to produce a vaccine with 80% efficacy rate and protection lasting for more than few years, by the year 2025. The same blueprint holds a more short term goal which is to produce a vaccine for malaria with 50% efficacy against the severe disease and death while having an effective duration of at least one year following taking the vaccine.
The progress in achieving the goals mentioned in the blue print:
The scientists who are engaged in research related to producing a vaccine against malaria are of the opinion that, the blueprint could be a reality as most research studies have shown rather appreciative outcomes in relation to preventing severe and deadly malaria to a certain extent.
Two clinical trials conducted in the African nation of Mali and in the Baltimore lab published their findings in the September issue of The New England Journal of Medicine and in ‘Science’ journal respectively. These studies made use of different approaches and according to its lead scientist, both approaches have shown positive results and they are now extending the researches using both approaches to see which reaches the 90% efficacy first.
At the same time, the interest and the funding generated for the malaria vaccine development programmes have seen a gradual rise which is a good indicator towards gaining ground quickly on producing a highly efficacious vaccine in the near future.
The challenges in producing a vaccine against a parasite such as malaria:
One of the main drawbacks of malaria vaccine related research is the time it takes to receive feedback in relation to its ability to generate immunity, the reason being that there are no correlatations in immunity which can be linked to the vaccines effectiveness and therefore it is the patients resistance which is observed in the field that will give the scientists their measure of the vaccines effectiveness.
At the same time, appropriate vaccine financing, a sound business model to sustain production as well as to make the vaccines available to those who are in need, and more collaboration between researchers are some avenues for improvement if the goal of a comprehensive vaccine by 2025 is to be realistic.