WHO Experts Recommend Pilot Programs To Better Understand Use Of GSK’s Malaria Vaccine Among African Children

News outlets report on a WHO panel’s recommendation that GlaxoSmithKline’s RTS,S malaria vaccine candidate undergo further testing through pilot programs in Africa.

CIDRAP News: WHO experts urge gradual rollout of malaria vaccine
“World Health Organization (WHO) experts [Friday] urged further trials of GSK’s candidate malaria vaccine on the heels of a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study showing that its low efficacy in young children is likely due to a mismatch with the strains of malaria parasite commonly found in Africa…” (Wappes, 10/23).

Nature News: Malaria vaccine cautiously recommended for use in Africa
“The world’s first vaccine against malaria should be rolled out in limited ‘pilot’ demonstrations in Africa, an advisory group to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva said on 23 October. The demonstrations — involving up to one million children — are needed because the vaccine is ineffective against malaria unless children receive four doses spread out over 18 months, and even then offers only modest protection…” (Callaway/Maxmen, 10/23).

New York Times: Leading Malaria Vaccine Gets Mixed Reviews
“…The vaccine, known as RTS,S or Mosquirix, has been in development for nearly 30 years, and is further along in the approval process than any other candidate. But it is no panacea. In clinical trials, it was less than 40 percent effective even after four shots…” (McNeil, 10/23).

Reuters: World’s first malaria vaccine delayed as WHO experts urge caution
“…GSK said it was ready to work with the WHO to support the pilot implementation of the vaccine. ‘We hope this will provide the additional information needed about how to best deliver the vaccine in a real-world setting,’ a spokeswoman said…” (Miles et al., 10/23).

ScienceInsider: WHO panel recommends pilot trials of so-so malaria vaccine
“…[The vaccine] could still save well over a hundred thousand lives every year, [WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts, or SAGE,] Chair Jon Abramson, a pediatrician at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said at a press conference today. The European Medicines Agency endorsed the use of the vaccine for African children six weeks to 17 months old in July…” (Kupferschmidt, 10/23).