A shot of hope

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Science  29 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6469, pp. 1062-1065
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6469.1062

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A new malaria vaccine named RTS,S or Mosquirix, is now being rolled out in three African countries. It targets Plasmodium falciparum, the most common and most lethal of four malaria parasite species, and is badly needed. But Mosquirix's efficacy and durability are mediocre, and some experts question whether it is worth the cost and effort. There are also concerns about its safety; in the largest trial, children who received Mosquirix had a risk of meningitis 10 times higher than those who received a control vaccine. It's unclear whether the vaccine is responsible, but the possible risk worried the global health community so much that the World Health Organization in 2015 decided to first set up a pilot in Malawi, Ghana, and Kenya in which the vaccine will be given to hundreds of thousands of children, to ensure the vaccine is safe and effective in the real world.

  • * Jop de Vrieze is a science journalist in Amsterdam. With reporting by Saulos Jali in Malawi. This story was supported by the European Journalism Fund.

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