14 December 2010

Malaria vaccine almost a reality

After 23 years of painstaking lab work and a programme of major trials in seven countries, biologist Joe Cohen says the clinical case for the malaria vaccine is almost proved.

Joe Cohen, a scientist tantalisingly close to delivering the world's first malaria vaccine, is on the stump.

It may seem an absurd thing to ask. Malaria threatens half the people on the planet and kills around 800,000 people a year, many of them too young to have even learned to walk. The death rate has come down in the last decade, but full-scale eradication will cost billions and drag funds away from other equally, or possibly even more urgent health efforts.

As governments in poor countries and donors from wealthy ones weigh up where to put their money, experts have begun a quiet but fundamental debate about whether wiping out malaria is realistic or even makes economic sense.


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