Written by Dr. Gregory Bartha
In 2020 malaria affected an estimated 240 million persons and led to 627,000 deaths. This was a 12% increase in mortality since 2019. Most of the deaths occur in SubSaharan Africa where the Cross Clinic is located. Children under 5 years of age account for about 80% of the deaths.
The malaria vaccine Mosquirix was released in October 2021. It is reported to have a vaccine efficacy of 36% after 4 years of followup. So better treatments are needed. A new approach is the use of monoclonal antibodies. Remember that these were used in the COVID epidemic with reasonably good results. These antibodies have been engineered to bind to and inactivate the malaria parasites before they have a chance to invade the liver and red blood cells. The antibodies have a long half life and can be given by injection under the skin. No IV treatment is necessary. One injection could provide protection for up to 6 months, This treatment could be used to prevent malaria in tourists and personnel stationed in malarious areas. Trials are ongoing, and this treatment my be commercially available in a few years.
Still an improved vaccine might be preferable because it would induce a memory response and would activate multiple parts of the immune system.