Malawi becomes 1st nation to immunize kids against malaria

A Health Surveilance Assistant prepares to give a dose of the Malaria Vaccinne into the first recipient on April 23, 2019 at Mitundu Community hospital in Malawi's capital district of Lilongwe on the first day of the Malaria vaccine implementation pilot programme in Malawi aiming to immunise 120,000 children aged two years and under to assess the effectiveness of the pilot vaccine and whether the delivery process is feasible. (AFP)
Updated 24 April 2019

Malawi becomes 1st nation to immunize kids against malaria

  • The vaccine, known as Mosquirix, was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2015

LONDON: The World Health Organization says Malawi has become the first country to begin immunizing children against malaria, using the only licensed vaccine to protect against the mosquito-spread disease.
Although the vaccine only protects about one-third of children who are immunized, those who get the shots are likely to have less severe cases of malaria. The parasitic disease kills about 435,000 people every year, the majority of them children under 5 in Africa.
“It’s an imperfect vaccine but it still has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives,” said Alister Craig, dean of biological sciences at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, who is not linked to WHO or vaccine. Craig said immunizing the most vulnerable children during peak malaria seasons could spare many thousands from falling ill or even dying.
The vaccine, known as Mosquirix, was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2015. A previous trial showed the vaccine was about 30% effective in children who got four doses, but that protection waned over time. Reported side effects include pain, fever and convulsions.
Pedro Alonso, director of WHO’s malaria program, said similar vaccination programs would begin in the coming weeks in Kenya and Ghana, with the aim of reaching about 360,000 children per year across the three countries.
Alonso called the vaccination rollout a “historical moment,” noting that it was significantly more difficult to design a vaccine against a parasite as opposed to a bacterium or virus.
He acknowledged the vaccine was flawed but said the world could not afford to wait for a better option. “We don’t know how long it will take to develop the next-generation vaccine,” he said. “It may be many, many years away.”
In the meantime, he said, the stalled progress against malaria demanded new tools now. Resistance is growing to medicines that treat the disease, while mosquitoes are becoming more resistant to insecticides. In addition, funding for malaria efforts has plateaued in recent years.
It took GSK and partners more than 30 years to develop the vaccine, at a cost of around $1 billion. GSK is donating up to 10 million vaccine doses in the current vaccination initiatives. A company spokesman said GSK is working with partners to secure funding for potentially broader vaccination programs.
Some experts warned the vaccination programs should not divert limited public health funds from inexpensive and proven tools to curb malaria such as bed nets and insecticides.
“This is a bold thing to do, but it’s not a silver bullet,” said Thomas Churcher, a malaria expert at Imperial College London. “As long as using the vaccine doesn’t interfere with other efforts, like the urgent need for new insecticides, it is a good thing to do.”
Craig said one of health officials’ biggest challenges could be convincing parents to bring their children for repeated doses of a vaccine that only protects about a third of children for a limited amount of time.
More commonly used vaccines, like those for polio and measles, work more than 90 percent of the time.
“This malaria vaccine is going to save many lives, even if it is not as good as we would like,” Craig said. “But I hope this will kick-start other research efforts so that the story doesn’t end here.”


Rights leader says Floyd ‘changed the world’ as protests march on

Updated 7 min 53 sec ago

Rights leader says Floyd ‘changed the world’ as protests march on

  • Members of Floyd’s family were among several hundred people attending the North Central University service
  • A vigil for Floyd was also held in New York and was attended by thousands of people, including Floyd’s brother, Terrence

MINNEAPOLIS: Hundreds of mourners joined an emotional memorial service in Minneapolis Thursday for George Floyd, the black man killed by police last week, as civil rights leader Al Sharpton vowed mass protests will continue until “we change the whole system of justice.”
Largely peaceful demonstrations took place later in cities from coast to coast. In New York, thousands marched over Brooklyn Bridge, while in Washington and Los Angeles curfews were lifted and crowds reduced.
In Minneapolis, Floyd’s attorney told mourners he would find justice for the 46-year-old, who died during a May 25 arrest when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“It was not the coronavirus pandemic that killed George Floyd,” said Benjamin Crump, who is representing Floyd’s family. “It was that other pandemic. The pandemic of racism and discrimination.”
The crowd stood in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the same length of time that officer Derek Chauvin spent with his knee on Floyd’s neck, a scene captured on video.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Floyd’s death has reignited long-felt anger over police killings of African-Americans and unleashed a nationwide wave of civil unrest unlike any seen in the US since Martin Luther King Jr’s 1968 assassination.
With marches for racial justice stretching beyond the US and around the world, Sharpton said Floyd’s death would not be in vain.
“It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say get your knee off our necks,” said the 65-year-old Baptist minister.
“You changed the world, George,” he said. “We’re going to keep fighting, George.”
“We’re going to keep going until we change the whole system of justice.”
Members of Floyd’s family were among several hundred people attending the North Central University service.
Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo dropped to a knee as the hearse bearing Floyd’s remains arrived for the service.
A vigil for Floyd was also held in New York and was attended by thousands of people, including Floyd’s brother, Terrence.
“White Silence is Violence,” a sign read. “Make America Not Embarrassing Again,” read another.
Arrests were reported in Manhattan after the 8.00 p.m. curfew passed, while upstate in Buffalo, a police officer who pushed an elderly protester to the ground drew outrage as footage was shared widely online.
A police statement said the man, who appeared unconscious and bled heavily from one ear, “tripped and fell.”
Local media later reported the man was in stable condition and an internal investigation of the officers involved had been launched.
In Richmond, protesters gathered around a statue of Robert E. Lee, after Virginia governor Ralph Northam announced plans to remove the Confederate leader monument.
A Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, broke ranks with her party meanwhile and revealed she was “struggling” with whether to support President Donald Trump’s re-election.
Murkowski said her move was prompted by remarks from Trump’s former defense secretary James Mattis, who a day earlier delivered a biting assessment of a president who “tries to divide us.”
“I thought General Mattis’s words were true and honest and necessary and overdue,” Murkowski told reporters.
Her comments mark a major break with Trump within the Republican camp, which has largely held together through various crises including his impeachment and current threat to use military force against protests.
While condemning Floyd’s death, Trump has adopted a tough stance toward the protesters, saying they include many “bad people” and calling on governors to “dominate the streets.”
US civil rights groups filed a case Thursday suing Trump, after security forces fired pepper balls and smoke bombs to clear peaceful demonstrators outside the White House before the president walked to a church for a photo op earlier this week.
Low-flying choppers were also used in an apparent show of force above protesters in Washington, DC on Monday night.
Trump tweeted: “The problem is not the very talented, low-flying helicopter pilots wanting to save our city, the problem is the arsonists, looters, criminals, and anarchists, wanting to destroy it (and our Country)!“
His re-election campaign accused Twitter of censorship after its post of video paying tribute to Floyd, narrated by a speech Trump gave on the killing, was removed following a copyright complaint.
Democratic Congressman John Lewis, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr to fight segregation, echoed Sharpton’s hope that Floyd’s death could pave the way for “greater change.”
The 80-year-old civil rights icon told “CBS This Morning” that the current protests felt “so much more massive and all-inclusive.” He also condemned Trump’s threat to use military force against demonstrators.
Some of the protests were marred by rioting and looting in the early days, but they have been mostly peaceful since then.
Three of the four Minneapolis police officers who arrested Floyd for allegedly passing a counterfeit bill made their first court appearance to face charges of aiding and abetting his murder.
Bail was set at $1 million each.
The fourth policeman, Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder and appeared before a judge last week.