Early clinical trials of a new malaria vaccine are raising hopes of a major breakthrough against the disease. For the first time, the vaccine trials showed a high efficacy rate above the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) standard.

When trialled in 450 children in Burkina Faso, the Oxford-developed vaccine prevented the disease 77% of the time amongst those receiving it. In a landmark achievement, the result exceeded the WHO’s target efficacy rate of 75%.

The vaccine is now set to undergo further scrutiny in larger and tougher trials.

Why is the malaria vaccine significant?

Developing an effective and safe COVID-19 vaccine may have taken less than a year, but efforts for malaria have been ongoing for the last half century.

This is mainly due to the low investment in developing a vaccine for a disease that mainly affects low and middle-income countries. Furthermore, the malaria parasite is complex and requires a very high immune response to fight it off.

In 2019, the WHO says almost half of the world’s population was at risk of malaria and most deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

Six countries accounted for half of all malaria deaths worldwide in 2019:

  • Nigeria
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo
  • United Republic of Tanzania
  • Burkina Faso
  • Mozambique
  • Niger

What is malaria?

Malaria is an ancient disease that has been afflicting humans for thousands of years.

A parasite that spreads through mosquito bites causes the illness, but it can also be transmitted between humans.

Symptoms of malaria can be difficult to recognise as they include fever, chills, and headache.

P. falciparum is one of the five parasite species that cause malaria in humans. It can lead to severe illness, and even death, if not treated within 24 hours.

In 2018, P. falciparum accounted for:

  • 99.7% of estimated malaria cases in the African Region
  • 50% of cases in the South-East Asia Region
  • 71% of cases in the Eastern Mediterranean
  • 65% in the Western Pacific

Malaria by the numbers

  • 229 million: the number of estimated malaria cases worldwide in 2019.
  • 5: the most vulnerable group of malaria sufferers are aged under five years old.
  • 94%: the proportion of malaria cases that burden the African region.
  • 409,000: the number of estimated malaria deaths in 2019.



Vision Of Humanity

Editorial Staff

Vision Of Humanity

Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague, Harare and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.