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Multipronged Approach Needed To Conquer Malaria

“A malaria vaccine could be a powerful new tool,” but “[c]ontrolling mosquitoes and diagnosing malaria remain essential. Among the highest priorities now is to develop new methods to do both,” a Bloomberg editorial states. “There is both less and more than meets the eye in the recent news that an experimental malaria vaccine cut in half the risk that children would contract the illness,” according to the editorial, which adds, “Many of the headlines that followed promised a life-saving vaccine around the corner — a prospect that in truth remains a maybe. At the same time, the trial results affirmed the benefits of a multipronged attack on malaria.”

The editorial notes challenges to developing a malaria vaccine, recaps the results of the early trials of the RTS,S candidate vaccine and writes, “The vaccine’s price would largely determine the extent of its use in the poor countries where it’s most needed. … Even if inexpensive, a licensed RTS,S could not be expected to conquer malaria on its own, since it presumably would reduce a child’s chance of getting the disease only by half.” It concludes, “Research investments have produced the innovations that brought malaria fighters this far. But the parasite has demonstrated its ability to overcome obstructions, and continuous discovery is a necessity” (11/30).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.