The malaria vaccine has a long history of research but there is not an actual vaccine that is completely effective against malaria. Malaria has plagued the human race since at least 2700 BC. There are documented cases for as long as humans have walked the earth.
Mosquito’s carry malaria and spread the disease. There are hundreds of thousands of people each year that die from malaria in warm tropical climates around the world. It is estimated that over 220 million people each year are infected with the parasite that causes malaria. It is most deadly to children, the elderly, people with HIV/AIDS or other auto immune deficiency disease.
The battle against Malaria has ensued for centuries. By the 1600’s it was discovered that quinine was an effective treatment of the disease by western countries but it had long been used by the Inca and other native tribes. It is sourced from the bark of the Cinchona Tree. It is an alkaloid that was the first line treatment for Malaria until 2006 when the World Health Organization stated that it should only be used in severe cases of the disease or when other anti-malarial drugs are not available.
Ideally the answer is to find a vaccine that will prevent the disease in the first place unfortunately there have been many attempts to come up with an effective vaccine that has failed time and time again. One of the key reasons that developing a vaccine is next to impossible is because the parasite once it enters the blood stream constantly adapts to its environment.
Producing a vaccine that will guess how the parasite will react to antibodies is virtually impossible. The way vaccines work is by building up the antibodies in the body to fight off the disease. Typically a small amount of the infection is injected into the host so that the body can develop the antibodies that are needed to fight off the disease in the future.
Malaria is a parasite developing a synthetic vaccine that can mimic the parasite has proven ineffective. The only option is to avoid the bite of the mosquito that carries the parasite AND treatment after the fact if the bite and the transfer of the parasite occurs.
There has been some progress made in mapping the genomes of both the host mosquito and the parasite but a vaccine is still decades and millions of dollars away.
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