RTS S: The Vaccine Giving New Hope Against Malaria
The Deadly Killer
Malaria, a deadly force of nature that has been claiming scores of lives for many years. Each year the deadly infection claims the life of around 585,000 people. That is a staggeringly large number, and a major world issue ranking it as an Endemic. Up until recently, however, there didn’t seem to be much hope in fighting, or stopping it.
Who Does Malaria Affect?
Malaria affects millions of people worldwide, in hundreds of different countries. Malaria is a blood-born infection, and is primarily spread through contact with mosquitoes. The pesky little insects will bite and feed on an infected, and then later feed on a non-infected, thus spreading the parasite to the new, clean host.
Though it is true that malaria is a world-wide issue, it is more prevalent in African countries where healthcare, housing, and sanitation are not entirely up to par.
Below is a breakdown of the affected countries by percentage rate, courtesy of BBC and the W.H.O.
A New Hope
A major breakthrough happened earlier this year with the discovery of an effective vaccine against the parasite, and treatments have already begun. Being given the green light by the EMA, the FDA, and the WHO, the vaccine is now being readily distributed in the first series of trials.
The Mosquirix Vaccine, also know as the RTS S Vaccine was developed by GlaxoSmithKline, a global health and medical science research organization. GSK is a major supplier of many vaccines, yet this one is a very unique breakthrough, as this is the first ever vaccine to work against a parasitic infection in humans.
The main goal of the development of the RTS S Vaccine is to help people, and begin to mount a counter-offensive against the malaria endemic.
The research that went into creating the first working vaccine has taken 30 years, and has been a very costly endeavor. The project has been largely supported by generous grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation.
In light of the recent progress Bill Gates was quoted as saying,
What This Now Means
This massive step forward in medical science means that we are closer than ever to finding an effective way to not only counteract and prevent malaria, but that we are also that much closer to finding an eventual cure.
GSK has already committed to the fact that they will be selling the vaccine for the price of production, and intend to make no profit from it, though they have not yer specified a price. This does mean, however, that the vaccine will be available to many more people, and be a great deal more affordable.
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