Lifesaving Malaria Vaccine


GAME-CHANGING TREATMENT: A nurse gives the new malaria vaccine to a child in Cape Coast, Ghana.

This past October, the World Health Organization (WHO) approved the first vaccine to protect against malaria. This infectious disease is spread through the bites of some mosquitoes. It is responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people worldwide every year—most of whom are children. During trials of the new vaccine, called Mosquirix, scientists found that cases of malaria were reduced by 40 percent and hospitalizations by 30 percent.


BLOODSUCKER: Malaria is transmitted when an infected mosquito bites a human.

The deadliest form of malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium falciparum. The single-celled organism invades red blood cells, causing high fever, sweating, and chills. Mosquirix helps the body’s disease-fighting immune system recognize and destroy P. falciparum before it can infect cells.

The vaccine has been in the making for more than 30 years. Its approval is “a huge milestone,” says Dr. James Tibenderana. He’s an epidemiologist—a medical doctor who studies the spread of disease—and technical director of Malaria Consortium, a nonprofit in the United Kingdom.

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