Bed Nets and Vaccines: Some Combinations May Worsen Malaria
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Combining insecticide-treated bed nets with vaccines and other control measures may provide the best chance at eliminating malaria, which killed nearly 600,000 people worldwide in 2013, most of them African children.
More than 20 malaria vaccine candidates are in different stages of development, but none are licensed for use. So no one knows for sure what will happen when vaccines and bed nets are used together.
A University of Michigan-led research team used a mathematical model of malaria transmission to find out. The researchers examined potential interactions between the two control measures and found that—in some cases—the combination of bed nets and a vaccine actually makes the problem worse.
“The joint use of bed nets and vaccines will not always lead to consistent increases in the efficacy of malaria control. In some cases, the use of vaccines and bed nets may actually make the situation worse,” said Mercedes Pascual, a professor in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
“Specifically, our study suggests that the combined use of some malaria vaccines with bed nets can lead to increased morbidity and mortality in older age classes.”
Pascual is co-author of a paper scheduled for online publication Jan. 19 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The first author is Yael Artzy-Randrup, a former postdoctoral researcher in Pascual’s lab who is now at the University of Amsterdam. The other author is Andrew Dobson of Princeton University.
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