World's first malaria vaccine which could be available from 2015 should not be viewed as a silver bullet against the disease, say scientists

British drug company GlaxoSmithKline seeking regulatory approval for vaccine to prevent disease which kills around 660,000 people every year

Health Reporter

The world’s first malaria vaccine must to be used as one of a whole arsenal of preventions and treatments if the killer disease is to be tackled effectively, experts said today.

British drug company GlaxoSmithKline announced that it is seeking regulatory approval for its vaccine, RTS, S after trial data showed a significant impact on the number of malaria cases in children.

The vaccine is one of around 20 in development, and is on course to be the first to gain European Medicines Agency approval, which could lead it being used fight one of the world’s biggest killers as early as 2015.

However, scientists urged that the vaccine should not be viewed as a silver bullet against the disease, which kills around 660,000 people every year, mostly children under five.

Results from Africa’s largest ever clinical trial, involving almost 15,500 children, showed that, 18 months after vaccination, children aged five to 17 months had a reduced risk of 46 per cent, but children aged six to 12 weeks at time of vaccination had only 27 per cent reduction in risk.

“We’ve known about this vaccine for a number of years now and all the studies have shown that it affects around 50 per cent and in younger age groups who don’t have such a good immune response that is down to around 30 per cent,” said David Lalloo, professor of tropical medicine at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. “The other concern is that there have been several studies that show it wanes over time…there are still uncertainties about duration and effects.”

“Having said that, given the huge number of malaria deaths and malaria cases, even a relatively small reduction has the potential to make a big difference,” he said.

Dr Sylvia Meek, technical director of the leading non-profit research organisation the Malaria Consortium, said that while only time would tell whether the vaccine would have a major impact, it was “a lot better than nothing”.

“I wouldn’t say [the vaccine] is necessarily the most important tool we could have, but it would be great to have it and I look forward to seeing where this one gets. There are other tools which are also highly efficacious. What’s more important than the efficacy of all of them is making sure we deploy them and use them properly.”

Resources for other preventative measures such as mosquito nets, insecticides and drug treatments needed to be maintained alongside vaccine development, said Dr Meek, a former director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“One of the things that’s really worrying me is the fear of losing some of the tools we’ve got at the moment,” she said. “Particularly with insecticide resistance increasing quite fast in Africa and drug resistance potentially increasing in South East Asia – our two best tools are somewhat threatened so we’re really keen to find strategies to ensure that that resistance doesn’t spread to the point of being really problematic.”

“10 years from now I think we could see a major reduction in malaria,” she said. “Perhaps a few countries having achieved elimination. What I’m hoping is that we don’t lose our focus on the countries that have the biggest burdens of malaria, particularly in western and central Africa and in South East Asia.”

An international drive to eradicate malaria saw death rates drop by 26 per cent between 2000 and 2010. However, the disease is still among the world’s biggest killers. The worst affected countries include Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania.

Last month the UK pledged £1bn extra funding over the next three years to fight malaria, along with TB and AIDs, as part of the Global Health Fund initiative.

Lynne Featherstone, International Development minister, said: “An effective malaria vaccine would have an enormous impact on the developing world…We welcome the scientific progress made by this research and look forward to seeing the full results in due course.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas