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Malaria vaccine offers short-lived protection in clinical trials

By Chukwuma Muanya, Assistant Editor
05 July 2016   |   4:50 am
A new clinical trial on world’s most promising malaria vaccine published June 30 in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that it offered short-lived protection, fading away within a matter of years.
Malaria Vaccine. AFP/GETTY IMAGES/TETRA IMAGES RF

Malaria Vaccine. AFP/GETTY IMAGES/TETRA IMAGES RF

Climate change to cause 250 000 additional deaths yearly by 2030

A new clinical trial on world’s most promising malaria vaccine published June 30 in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that it offered short-lived protection, fading away within a matter of years.

The researchers found that even worse, the vaccine, dubbed RTS,S/AS01, might increase children’s long-term risk of contracting malaria if they live in a region with heavy transmission of the mosquito-borne parasite.

Also, a new Fact Sheet on Climate Change and Health released yesterday by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that malaria, which is transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes, kills almost 600 000 people every year – mainly African children under five years old.

The WHO noted that the Aedes mosquito vector of dengue is also highly sensitive to climate conditions, and studies suggest that climate change is likely to continue to increase exposure to dengue.

A WHO assessment, taking into account only a subset of the possible health impacts, and assuming continued economic growth and health progress, concluded that climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050; 38 000 due to heat exposure in elderly people, 48 000 due to diarrhoea, 60 000 due to malaria, and 95 000 due to childhood under-nutrition.

Also, another new study published yesterday in International Journal of Epidemiology found that paracetamol (acetaminophen), which is used extensively during pregnancy, has a strong association with autism spectrum symptoms in boys and for both genders in relation to attention-related and hyperactivity symptoms.

Researchers in Spain recruited 2644 mother-child pairs in a birth cohort study during pregnancy. 88 per cent were evaluated when the child was one-year-old, and 79.9 per cent were evaluated when they were five years old. Mothers were asked about their use of paracetamol during pregnancy and the frequency of use was classified as never, sporadic, or persistent. Exact doses could not be noted due to mothers being unable to recall them exactly.

Forty-three per cent of children evaluated at age one and 41 per cent assessed at age five were exposed to any paracetamol at some point during the first 32 weeks of pregnancy.

Meanwhile, the malaria vaccine results indicate that RTS,S/AS01 could have limited usefulness in the global fight to eradicate malaria but the vaccine’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline, contends that the children in this particular clinical trial may not have been given enough doses of RTS,S/AS01. GlaxoSmithKline partially funded the current study.