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Lisa Jarvis

Breakthrough Malaria Shot Needs More Funding to Succeed

A new vaccine could mean better access for children most at risk of dying from the disease, but only with significantly more backing.



Photographer: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

It took scientists 30 years to create the first malaria vaccine, approved by the World Health Organization in 2021. A second, even better one is now almost ready to be deployed against the disease. Governments and philanthropies should be stepping up their funding to global health partners so they can build on that momentum in the battle against malaria, where progress has been stalled for years.

Malaria kills more than 600,000 people a year, the vast majority young children in sub-Saharan Africa. That makes it the third-leading cause of death each year among children under the age of 5, just after pneumonia and diarrhea. Developed by scientists at the University of Oxford, a new vaccine appeared remarkably effective at preventing malaria in a study of children in Burkina Faso, where the malaria season is short and intense — in 2019, nearly 8 million cases were reported in a population of roughly 20.3 million people, according to the WHO. In a trial of more than 400 children there, the vaccine was 80% effective. If those results hold up in a larger, longer study, they would exceed the WHO’s goal of achieving 75% or greater efficacy.