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Oxford team behind coronavirus jab take step towards cheap and effective vaccine for malaria

Oxford team behind coronavirus jab take big step towards producing cheap and effective vaccine for malaria at stage-three trials

  • Jenner Institute said malaria vaccine will be tested on 4,800 children in Africa  
  • Final human trials will be in countries like Kenya, Mali and Burkina Faso next year 
  • Director Adrian Hill said he hope jab would combat half a million annual deaths    

The same Oxford team behind a successful coronavirus vaccine are on the verge of entering the final stage of human trials in their jab against malaria. 

The Jenner Institute director Adrian Hill said the malaria vaccine will be tested on 4,800 children in Africa next year after early trials yielded promising results.

The Jenner Institute director Adrian Hill (pictured) said the malaria vaccine will be tested on 4,800 children in Africa next year

Professor Hill said he hoped the jab could eventually combat the almost half a million annual deaths from the disease, during an interview with The Times. 

He said: ‘Malaria is a public health emergency.

‘A lot more people will die in Africa this year from malaria than will die from Covid. I don’t mean twice as many – probably ten times.’

He added that the vaccine is going to be ‘available in very large amounts’ and is going to ‘be very low priced’.   

Professor Hill said the vaccine could be in use by 2024, should the final human trials in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania and Mali be successful next year. 

The Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is currently awaiting regulatory approval for use in the UK.         

The institute’s coronavirus and malaria vaccines are intended to be cheap and available at scale in developing countries. 

Despite more than a century of research, no vaccine is fully licensed for malaria, according to The Times.  

Early phase-two trials have proved to be promising for the disease, which has been hard to tackle in part because it is a parasite, which is bigger than a virus.

They have partnered with the Serum Institute in India, which said it could make between 200 million and 300 million doses a year.    

The Jenner Institute has been backed by the government, the EU, the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation. 

The Tory MP Andrew Mitchell, said he was concerned that without continued government funding Britain would not be involved in any distribution of the jab.

He said: ‘This is such exciting news — malaria kills a child every two seconds in the poorest parts of the world.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is currently awaiting regulatory approval for use in the UK (file image)

The Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is currently awaiting regulatory approval for use in the UK (file image)

‘It would be a tragedy if cuts to the aid budget mean the UK fails to get the credit for delivering the full benefits of this amazing science.’ 

In a trial on young adult UK volunteers who were deliberately infected with malaria, it was more than 80 per cent effective. 

The UK has secured 40million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, with 10million due in the UK by the end of the year. Matt Hancock revealed 800,000 doses will be available next week. 

WHAT IS MALARIA? 

Malaria is a life-threatening tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. 

It is one of the world’s biggest killers, claiming the life of a child every two minutes, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Most of these deaths occur in Africa, where 250,000 youngsters die from the disease every year. 

Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, of which five cause malaria.

The Plasmodium parasite is mainly spread by female Anopheles mosquitoes.

When an infected mosquito bites a person, the parasite enters their bloodstream. 

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Feeling hot and shivery
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting 
  • Muscle pain
  • Diarrhoea

These usually appear between a week and 18 days of infection, but can taken up to a year or occasionally even more.

People should seek medical attention immediately if they develop symptoms during or after visiting a malaria-affected area.

Malaria is found in more than 100 countries, including:

  • Large areas of Africa and Asia
  • Central and South America
  • Haiti and the Dominican Republic
  • Parts of the Middle East
  • Some Pacific Islands 

A blood test confirms a diagnosis. 

In very rare cases, malaria can be spread via blood transfusions. 

For the most part, malaria can be avoided by using insect repellent, wearing clothes that cover your limbs and using an insecticide-treated mosquito net. 

Malaria prevention tablets are also often recommended. 

Treatment, which involves anti-malaria medication, usually leads to a full recovery if done early enough.

Untreated, the infection can result in severe anaemia. This occurs when the parasites enter red blood cells, which then rupture and reduce the number of the cells overall.

And cerebral malaria can occur when the small blood vessels in the brain become blocked, leading to seizures, brain damage and even coma. 

Source: NHS Choices 

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