European regulators have recommended licensing the world’s most advanced malaria vaccine. The European Medicines Agency said its advantages outweighed the fact that it is only about 30 percent effective.
The vaccine, known as Mosquirix, which is being developed by British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), was given the go-ahead “for use outside the European Union” on Friday, despite attaining mixed results in years of testing.
“The CHMP (Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use) concluded that despite its limited efficacy, the benefits of Mosquirix outweigh the risks,” the London-based European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in a statement.
Final results of a trial with the vaccine, which also goes under the name of RTS,S and is intended for use with young children, were published in the medical journal “The Lancet” earlier this year.
They show that the vaccine protects about 30 percent of children, but that the effects wear off over time, even when booster shots are administered.
Despite this partial effect, the drug remains the most advanced vaccine that has so far been developed to combat the mosquito-borne disease, which kills around 1,200 children in sub-Saharan Africa on average per day. More than 80 percent of malaria deaths are in children under the age of five.
The World Health Organization says on its website that it is considering using the vaccine “as an addition to” existing treatments and not as a substitute for them.
The vaccine has been developed with backing from the non-profit group PATH Malaria Vaccine initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and has cost hundreds of millions of dollars to create.
GSK has promised it will make no profit from Mosquirix, taking only a 5-percent profit that it will reinvest in more research on malaria and other tropical diseases.
Malaria infects around 200 million people a year, and killed an estimated 584,000 in 2013, the overwhelming majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa.