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GSK asks European regulator to OK malaria vaccine despite low efficacy in children

Pharma giant GSK said Thursday it is submitting its malaria vaccine for regulatory approval to the European Medicines Agency.

The experimental shot is the most advanced candidate vaccine for malaria but results from previous trials have been disappointing. Research published in 2012 showed the shot only reduced malaria cases by about 30% in babies aged 6 to 12 weeks, the target age for immunization. The vaccine, known as RTS,S, seems to work better in older children but its efficacy faded over time.

In a statement on Thursday, GSK said its vaccine is aimed only for use against the malaria parasite most prevalent in Africa.

There is currently no licensed vaccine for malaria. The parasitic disease is spread by mosquitoes and kills about 650,000 people every year, mostly in Africa.

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