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Malaria vaccine breakthrough could save thousands

Scientists in Oxford have made a breakthrough in developing a new vaccine that could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

Malaria is one of the world's biggest killers - causing the deaths of around 650,000 people every year, most of them children under the age of five.

At Oxford University they have been working to prevent the disease for seven years. But now first clinical trials of a new vaccine show it is nearly seventy percent effective. Juliette Fletcher has been to the Jenner Institute to find out more.

The interviewees from the Malaria vaccine trials at the Jenner Institute are: Katie Ewer, Senior Immunologist; and Carly Bliss, Research Assistant.

Could malaria be eradicated?

The mosquito is the cause of malaria Credit: PA

Dr Tatem added: “Evidence from the data we have examined suggests that a concerted effort to bring an individual country to the point of elimination will likely result in that country maintaining a stable, low malaria transmission rate.

"If this is the case, malaria elimination could proceed at an individual country level, until global eradication is achieved."


Southampton helps malaria research

The research team examined data from 1980 onwards for 30 countries which successfully eliminated malaria and also took part in the 1955 Global Malaria Eradication Programme (GMEP).

In these countries, elimination has become highly stable and infection has declined.

Three potential reasons for this decline and stability of malaria have been suggested.

They include declines in transmission rates resulting from urbanization and economic development

Other reasons are a high-degree of transmission control from treating malaria cases combined with outbreak control and low-connectivity among places that are highly receptive to transmission.

Malaria research in Southampton

A researcher at the University of Southampton believes the global eradication of malaria could be achieved by individual countries eliminating the disease within their own borders.

Dr Andrew Tatem, who is working as part of a team from the UK and USA, made his comments as the findings are published in the journal Science.

He said: “Our findings suggest it may be possible for malaria elimination to proceed like a ratchet, tightening the grip on the disease region-by-region, country-by-country, until eradication is ultimately achieved – but without the need for a globally coordinated campaign.”