Equatorial Guinea has held the first clinical trial of a new malaria vaccine known as PfSPZ. Three volunteers participated this month in the trial of the vaccine, which was developed by the American biotechnology company Sanaria. The trial took place at the La Paz Medical Center, the country's premier medical facility, located in Sipopo, just outside the capital.
The country's Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has partnered with the several organizations and companies to test the vaccine: Ifakara Health Institute (IHI), the La Paz Medical Center, Sanaria, Marathon Equatorial Guinea Production Limited, Noble Energy, and Medical Care Development International (MCDI), which trained local staff to assist with the preparation of malaria vaccine trial.
When the vaccine is applied, it can generate a strong immune response to protect the body against the parasite that causes malaria. In early tests, the drug has proven to be the safest and most effective possible vaccine to fight the disease.
Equatorial Guinea is the second country in Africa to sponsor a malaria vaccine clinical trial. The government of Equatorial Guinea has waged an aggressive fight against the disease, which is endemic in West and Central Africa, through spraying, education, and distribution of chemically treated mosquito nets. It invested approximately three million U.S. dollars in 2013 for the Program to Fight Malaria, which has significantly contributed to the reduction of the disease on the island of Bioko and has been recognized for its effort by the United Nations and the organization Roll Back Malaria.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2013 there were about 198 million cases of malaria worldwide. Many of which were fatal.
The first PfSPZ vaccine trial in Equatorial Guinea will continue over the next year, with additional doses and follow-up visits.
Republic of Equatorial Guinea