Malaria Vaccine?

mosquitoGlaxoSmithKline, the big-pharma company, has announced they are set to start phase three clinical trials for a malaria vaccine. Read the Reuters article here.

This is potentially fantastic news. However, a number of major hurdles need to be overcome before it starts saving lives.

First, it has to pass its final clinical testing phase. This is far from a sure bet.

Secondly, it has to be priced at an appropriate level. Unfortunately, most malaria sufferers live in developing countries and would have a hard time paying more than a few dollars for the vaccine.

Thirdly, it has to be widely and properly distributed. Distributing drugs into the far reaches of places in Africa and Asia and Oceana is no easy task.

Fourthly, distribution has to be accompanied by a successful public information campaign. People are often suspicious of new drugs, especially if it has any immediate side effects. People have to both accept it and take it properly for it to be effective.

If it were just up to GSK to ensure it would be rolled out effectively, I wouldn’t place a strong bet. Luckily, the development of the drug has been financed, in part, by the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, which is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They have the resources, and hopefully the will and expertise, to allow this to save millions of lives.

This is also a first-rate example of a charity-corporate partnership. Neither organization could do it alone, but together, they can hopefully improve the lot of the world’s poorest nations.

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