Anopheles gambiae Photo credit: Jim Gathany-CDC.

The New Malaria Vaccine is a Big Step Forward — But No Silver Bullet

On October 6, the World Health Organization endorsed a malaria vaccine for the first time ever. After years of testing, the vaccine was shown to be safe and effective at preventing the deaths of thousands of children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The WHO’s backing of this malaria vaccine is not only the recognition of a breakthrough in scientific research, but really an important moment in human history. Malaria is an ancient plague that has killed humans for hundreds of years —  if not more. And though malaria has been eradicated in most western and northern countries, it still kills over 400,000 people each year — most of those deaths are among children in Sub-saharan Africa.

My guest today, Margaret McDonnell, executive director of Nothing But Nets at the UN Foundation. Nothing But Nets is campaign that raises money and awareness around strategies to fight malaria, including the widespread use insecticide-treated bed nets which is a proven way to sharply reduce malaria infection.

She is a veteran in the global fight against malaria and in our conversation she explains the significance of this new vaccine in ongoing efforts to control and combat Malaria in sub-saharan Africa and beyond. We spend the first few minutes of our conversation discussing recent trends in global efforts on malaria before having a longer conversation about this new vaccine.

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