Wednesday, February 15, 2012
NPR: Experimental Malaria Vaccine Slashes Infection Risk By Half
Obviously this vaccine is experimental at this point, and it is far too early to determine the impact, but the article states "malaria researchers say the new vaccine could prevent malaria in tens of millions of children and save hundreds of thousands of lives per year".
Think about that for a second - we have an experimental vaccine which only reduces the infection rate for malaria by about half rather than completely eliminates it, but even with only a 50% to 55% reduction it can still save hundreds of thousands of lives per year. Yet antivaccinationists continually try to convince us that vaccines do not work and that they cause more harm than good. Apparently this is yet another example of a study they will need to ignore as they try to claim there is no science proving vaccines are beneficial.
Let us be clear - this vaccine is a prime example of how science is making the world a better place. Note the results from the study showed a clear benefit to the vaccine and this benefit cannot be attributed to anything else. There were no environmental factors that differed between the two study groups, the population was stable, sanitation and pest control programs were not modified, and the test groups were co-mingled within all test sites. Therefore the results appear very promising, although scientists and researchers admit more work needs to be done to improve the vaccine efficacy.
It is also worthy to note that the funding to develop this vaccine came from the vaccine's sponsor GlaxoSmithKline (who contributed around $300M) and from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (who contributed around $200M). Antivaccinationists will be quick to point out that GlaxoSmithKline is a vaccine manufacturer who stands to profit if this vaccine is available for sale, but GSK puts their minds at ease by openly stating they will make no profit from this endeavor.
It is nice to know there are organizations out there that are trying to save lives and improve living conditions even when they can't personally profit from it, and you will also note that GSK or the Gates Foundation didn't charge these children massive amounts of money to be in their clinical trial... a tactic we have seen employed elsewhere. When it comes to life saving vaccines that could help eradicate a disease thankfully it is usually about the people - not the profit.
The NPR article (which contains a link to the original audio broadcast) can be found on the NPR website.
The actual results of the phase 3 clinical trial can be found within The New England Journal of Medicine.