Malaria vaccine could be in widespread use by 2015

A British pharmaceutical firm has revealed results of an ongoing clinical trial that suggest the world's first malaria vaccine is capable of protecting most young children and infants up to 18 months after vaccination.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) disclosed the results of its trial at a conference on malaria in South Africa, Sky News reported.

The subjects of the three-dose vaccine trial were 15,000 babies and young children in seven African countries. According to the company, the children vaccinated were 46 percent less likely to suffer clinical malaria, and for every 1,000 children vaccinated, 21 cases of malaria were prevented.

GSK has admitted that the vaccine, codenamed RTS,S, is not perfect, saying that it worked less well in babies. Infants who were given the vaccine at only a few weeks old were only 27 percent less likely to contract clinical malaria.

Despite the qualifications, GSK has said it will apply for a license to market the vaccine from the European Medicines Agency next year, and the World Health Organization has said it would support the vaccine as soon as 2015 if it is confirmed to be safe and effective.

Malaria kills an estimated 660,000 people around the world every year. Most of its victims are children in sub-Saharan Africa.

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