World's First Malaria Vaccine Could Save Hundreds Of Thousands Of Children

This is huge.

Malaria is one of history's most persistent and deadliest diseases.

The mosquito-borne disease is responsible for the economic decline of whole countries, as well as hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. 

Although malaria is preventable and treatable, in 2013 it killed 584,000 people. Ninety percent of those deaths took place in Sub-Saharan Africa and 83 percent of those affected children under the age of 5.

Now, after three decades of exhaustive research and many trials, the world's first malaria vaccine is one step closer to saving hundreds of thousands of lives. The European Medicines Agency green-lighted the Mosquirix vaccine and have recommended that it should be licensed for use in babies in Africa who are most at risk of the mosquito-borne disease.

U.S. Army Africa / Flickr
U.S. Army Africa / Flickr

Mosquirix managed to cut the number of cases in younger babies by 27 percent.

Though the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, it has been shown to be most effective in newborns between the ages of 5 and 17 months. The vaccine operates by preventing the malaria parasite from maturing and multiplying in the body. Usually it then enters the person's bloodstream and triggers potentially fatal symptoms such as high fever, chills, nausea and fatigue.

Mosquirix was developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, and is partially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

It will now be examined by the World Health Organization (WHO), then by individual countries before it gets administered to children. 

Cover image via AMISOM Public Information / Flickr