Experimental malaria vaccine shows disappointing results...
Experimental Malaria Vaccine Falls Short
November 09, 2012 - The world's first experimental malaria vaccine produced disappointing results in a large-scale test among African infants, raising questions about its potential for fighting the disease.
See also:The vaccine, promoted as a new weapon in the malaria fight, reduced the risk of malaria by only 30 percent. The study involved more than 6,500 babies aged six to 12 weeks. The results, released Friday, showed the vaccine providing less than half the protection it did in a previous smaller trial involving infants. The report said the "modest protection" the vaccine, which is also known as RTS,S or Mosquirix, has been provided in this latest trial was also lower than the 50 percent reported last year among older children.
Dr. Jennifer Cohn, a doctor with Doctors Without Borders, told the Associated Press that the vaccine’s effectiveness was “unacceptably low.” Vaccinating babies is seen as a more cost effective way of battling the disease since it could be added to the regimen of other infant vaccinations. Billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, whose foundation is helping fund the vaccine, said the effectiveness rate came back lower than hoped. But the top British drug manufacturer developing the vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), will continue its efforts.
Chief executive Andrew Witty said the drugmaker remains convinced the vaccine has a role to play in tackling malaria. “We’ve been at this for 30 years, and we’re certainly not going to give up now, he said during a conference call with reporters. The company, which has invested $300 million in the drug, does not expect to profit from the drug, which will be sold only in poor countries. “The results look bad now, but they will probably be worse later,” said Adrian Hill of Oxford University to the Associated Press.
The results were released during a conference in South Africa Friday as part of a continuing study that will end in 2014. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 650,000 people die from the mosquito-borne illness each year. The vast majority are children in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Nigeria, Time Running Out for Kids Poisoned by Lead
November 09, 2012 — The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders estimates that 1,500 children are suffering from lead poisoning in a northern Nigerian village, and can not be treated until the lead is cleaned up. The organization says if the cleanup does not begin soon, it may not be able to treat the children when, or if the cleanup ever happens.
In the quiet village of Bagega, in northern Nigeria, the children were exposed when small-scale gold mining near the village released poisonous lead dust into the air. Hours away at a café in the capital, Abuja, Doctors Without Borders humanitarian affairs officer Hosanna Fox says it is not just medical workers that are alarmed. "All the state agencies, all the community leaders, people that are involved in various aspects of mining. They’re all joining forces with one message: There’s no more time left," Fox explains. "Children are suffering and dying from lead poisoning. Further government delay will have catastrophic effects for a group of children that have already been victims for two years.”
Fox says cleanup of the lead is possible, and the government set aside more than $4 million in May for the project, but the money is tied up in the bureaucracy. She says unless the money is released by the middle of this month, there won't be enough time to complete the cleanup before the rainy season begins in April or May. If the cleanup is delayed until next year, she says, the treatment of the children will have to be delayed too, because treatment cannot be successful if lead dust is still in the environment.
Fox says Doctors Without Borders will not commit to taking Bagega children into the group's lead poison treatment program unless the cleanup begins soon. “We’ve had really great success medically, but unfortunately we can’t wait indefinitely for the government of Nigeria to take action and at some point we will have to put limitations on our commitment,” he warns. The Zamfara lead poisoning outbreak began in 2010 and has been called the largest in recorded history. Hundreds of children died and others continue to suffer long-term mental and emotional problems and disabilities like paralysis and cerebral palsy. Aid workers say lead poisoning also affects adults in Zamfara state but treatment is not available.