Sunday, 23 October 2011

Contrary Effects of a Malaria Vaccine?

It would be a churlish, callous individual who did not applaud the technical breakthrough of scientists developing a vaccine for malaria capable of halving death and morbidity in African children (http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d6832.extract). This is the first time that a vaccine has been developed to a protozoan parasite and this, along with the distribution of bed nets and effective mosquito control, could transform human population dynamics in the sub-Saharan region, especially if vaccine use is encouraged by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This 'technofix' will not, however, come without some associated problems. The malarial agent is very variable and it might well prove difficult for vaccine development to stay 'ahead of the game'. A second problem is that, without a rapid change in reproductive behaviour, the increased survival might well lead to later economic development problems in the region. Finally, there has been some recent predictions that the world population for humans will reach around 10 billion by 2050 (http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6038). If this occurs, it might well prove to be catastrophic for the planet and its inhabitants. Child death and morbidity is not a good way to curtail population increases (by no means limited to Africa) but I would argue that vaccine application should be accompanied by dissemination of contraceptive advice and technology.

No comments:

Pat Bateson

I have just noted the obituary of Sir Patrick Bateson 1938-2017 ( https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/aug/14/sir-patrick-bateson-ob...