Malaria could be eliminated within a decade, a leading vaccinologist behind the revolutionary Oxford University coup has predicted.
The mosquito-borne and mosquito-borne disease claims more than 600,000 lives each year worldwide and progress in reducing deaths has recently stalled.
But the approval of two British jabs to prevent infection now means that “eradication of malaria could be feasible within 10 years”.
Professor Adrian Hill, director of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, said the new tools can be combined with traditional prevention methods, including mosquito nets and anti-malarial drugs.
‘I think it [eradication] “It will probably be in the mid-2030s, provided the funding is provided,” he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual conference in Denver.
The disease, transmitted and transmitted by mosquitoes, claims more than 600,000 lives each year worldwide and progress in reducing deaths has recently stalled (File photo)
‘There’s a lot going on, it’s really exciting. “I have been in this field for 35 years and it has never been like this before.”
The first successful vaccine, GSK’s RTS,S jab, was given the green light for widespread use by the World Health Organization (WHO) in July 2022, followed by Oxford University’s R21 vaccine in December 2022. 2023.
The world’s first routine malaria vaccination took place in Cameroon last month, with the ambition to reach 6.6 million children in 20 African countries by 2025.
Professor Hill described how 114 years of research had led to the first jabs capable of preparing the human immune system to resist parasitic disease.
Oxford’s vaccine, which costs £3 per dose, is expected to be cheaper and easier to mass produce than GSK’s, with plans for at least 35 million doses this year and potential to rise to up to 200 million annually.
However, the WHO has said that both vaccines can prevent about 75 percent of malaria infections and there is no evidence that one is superior.
The UK is “incredibly strong in tropical medicines” and “exceeds our capabilities” in the fight against malaria, the Irish vaccinologist said.
However, he warned that achieving elimination depends on adequate funding.
The approval of two British vaccines to prevent infection now means that “malaria eradication could be feasible within 10 years”
Some countries have already seen impressive progress. Malaria cases in China have plummeted from 30 million in 1970 and the country was declared malaria-free in 2017.
Professor Hill added it was “a shame” that more was not being done to eradicate the disease.
“People still think, ‘In Africa, babies die,'” he said. ‘Yes, but they are not babies, they are actually one- and two-year-old children, people with names that look you in the eye and who were running around smiling the day before. It’s horrible to see.’
Mary Hamel, a WHO malaria expert, told the conference that she was “less optimistic” that elimination would be achieved in the 2030s with current interventions.
But he added: ‘I think we will improve the tools we have. These were the first generation of malaria vaccines and efforts are already underway to improve them.
“I completely agree that more commitment and funding is needed to achieve the goal of eradication.”