Coinciding with the World Malaria Day on April 25th, GFA World announced that a new malaria vaccine which could save millions of lives is on its way.
"Malaria is one of the most rampant child-killers in the world today," said K.P. Yohannan, founder of Texas-based GFA World "For countless millions across Africa, Asia and other parts of the world, an effective vaccine against malaria would be like a dream."
Potential Malaria Vaccine from Mosquito Spit
According to an October 2020 article from Legion Magazine, a clinical researcher for the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has developed a vaccine based on mosquito spit.
Sharon Adams, writing for Legion, wrote that during tests on animals, this mosquito saliva-based vaccine turned out to be effective not just for malaria prevention, but also in impairing the development of Zika virus and sandfly-borne leishmaniasis.
The first human trial was in 2017 where 49 volunteers had reportedly experienced minor side effects. The next stage is to test this potential vaccine to a larger group. Once proven successful, this will signal the first vaccine to prevent infection from mosquito-borne diseases.
It's Time to Deal with Other Deadly Diseases
In GFA's report, malaria is humanity's most deadly infectious disease claiming nearly half a million lives around the world each year. Its fatality is most felt in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to the said incoming vaccine, the known primary defense against the disease is mass distribution of nets which was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
These insecticide-treated mosquito nets are a mainstay to curbing the spread of malaria worldwide, although recent studies show that it won't be enough in some cases. This is because a new breed of "super mosquito" has built up resistance toward the Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) which had been credited to saving 6.8 million lives over the past 15 years.
Efforts to stamp out malaria, however, was hampered by the lockdowns and other state-imposed restrictions. Concerned agencies fear that this would lead to a dramatic rise of malaria-caused deaths in 2021. According to Nature Medicine, researchers fear the possibility of 779,000 deaths in the sub-Saharan Africa over a 12-month period.
"More than three months of lockdowns have prevented many people from accessing treatments for non-COVID infectious diseases," states the researchers. "At the same time, new cases of these illnesses will have gone undetected. Although lockdowns are easing, it will take some time for health care to get back to normal, as authorities continue to prioritize COVID-19. Taken together, this is resulting in a surge of cases."
Therefore, it's crucial to develop a vaccine that could effectively ward off this life-threatening disease. Moreover, the researchers proposed public-information campaigns to raise awareness about the resurgence of deadly diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS. They also call for a quick refocus on conducting diagnostic tests for these diseases in hospital facilities.
"It is, of course, imperative that all measures possible are taken to protect people from coronavirus and to treat those who have become sick. But saving people from one infectious disease only to have them die of another is the last thing anyone wants," they said.
GFA in Action
According to K.P. Yohannan, the agency had distributed more than 1.3 million nets over the past decade. The nets, which cost $10 each, have proven to be lifesavers across Asia.
The faith-based organization also run free medical camps.
"It's one way of being the hands and feet of Christ - and showing God's love - to those who suffer the most in our world," said Yohannan.