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
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable