Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why I'm a technology optimist: malaria vaccine

This is possibly the best news for humanity as a whole in the past 10 years. We are now closer to a viable malaria vaccine. From the NIH:
In 2015, 212 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide, and 429,000 people with malaria died, largely African children under five years old, according to the World Health Organization. Although only 1,500 to 2,000 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the United States each year, the disease is a concern for international travelers, aid workers and military personnel worldwide.[...]

The investigators report that the vaccine candidate was well-tolerated and safe with no serious adverse events. Among the 40 participants who received five placebo doses, 93 percent (37 participants) developed P. falciparum malaria infections; by comparison, 66 percent (27 participants) of the participants who received five doses of the PfSPZ Vaccine (41 participants) developed malaria infection. Based on the primary study analysis, PfSPZ Vaccine demonstrated a 48 percent protective efficacy by time-to-first positive malaria blood smear and 29 percent efficacy by proportion of participants with at least one positive malaria blood smear during a full 20-week malaria transmission season. By both measures of protective efficacy, there was statistically significant protection in the vaccine group as compared with the placebo group.

I spend much of my day studying political news, policy news, and science news. The political and policy news can often be very depressing, especially lately. But the latest scientific development are an endless source of hope for me and should be for everyone.

Being able to more effectively deal with malaria, one of the oldest and possibly deadliest diseases to ever plague our species, would help millions. It would be one of the greatest ways to improve human welfare ever.

I believe the future can be better because I can see how scientist successfully working on ways to make it better.

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