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Human trials begin in malaria vaccine candidate

Sanaria, Inc. and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative announced this morning that their potential vaccine for malaria ready to start human trials as early as this May.

The vaccine works like that of yellow fever or smallpox -- injecting a small quantity of diseased parasite into the patient's bloodstream, such that the body can develop antibodies ready to strike back if and when a real infection occurs. Sanaria have focused their vaccine efforts on Plasmodium falciparum, the most fatal and also most resilient species of the parasite. 

There are a number of candidate vaccines at the moment -- most of which have an efficacy rate of around 50 percent. That's enough to bring down mortality rates if even at-risk patients are given the vaccines. But as public health experts will no doubt point out, the hard part is getting that kind of comprehensive coverage. The rural health systems that are most burdened by malaria will find it difficult to support the kind of coordination that a vaccine scheme would require. 

Still, a vaccine would do wonders. Falcipurum in particular has built up confounding resistance to conventional treatments in recent years. Certainly, it will continue to do so as long as we have to keep treating -- rather than preventing -- infection. 

TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images

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Morning Brief: IMF sees more doom ahead

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So much for "green shoots." The IMF poured cold water on springtime optimism yesterday with a "substantial downward revision" of its January forecast for the world economy. The Fund now predicts a 1.4 percent contraction in the world economy in 2009 with only 1.9 percent growth the year after.

The predictions were especially dire for the EU, which contract 4 percent this year, according to the forecasts. FT's Lex noted the wide disparity between the IMF's numbers and forecasts by other central banks and economists. Passport's Annie Lowrey has more details.

Japan reported its first trade deficit since 1980 yesterday. However, the fall in the country's exports does show signs of slowing. Positive signs also include an uptick in exports to China and the U.S.

With the world's finance minister meeting in Washington this weekend to build on agreements made at last month's G-20 meeting, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that it's critical that "governments keep providing support for demand," even with some signs of stabilization. The U.S. government will begin briefing banks on the results of its "stress tests" tomorrow.

Africa

Asia

  • More than 100,000 people have fled the fighting in northern Sri Lanka. Military operations are continuing.
  • Pakistan has sent troops to protect government buildings in an area infiltrated by the Taliban.
  • After the second of five rounds of voting in India's parliamentary elections, polls show neither the ruling Congress Party nor the opposition BJP with enough votes to rule on their own.

Middle East

  • A suicide bombing killed 22 people who were collecting humanitarian aid in Baghdad.
  • Lebanon's election this summer may be its most corrupt ever, with money flowing in from abroad to help buy votes.
  • The Egyptian government has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a visit.

Europe and Caucasus

Americas

  • The U.S. Congress is debating whether to establish a panel to investigate Bus-era interrogations.
  • On Earth Day, President Obama called for congress to pass a cap-and-trade bill to reduce carbon emissions.
  • A Venezuelan court issued an international arrest warrant for a political opponent of Hugo Chavez who is seeking asylum in Peru.
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