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Finally… historic malaria vaccine approved

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Did it take too long? The vaccine could prevent malaria spreading and save thousands of lives. But it has taken more than 100 years to make. 

What’s happening? 

It’s a big day for Latif Ndeketa. When he was growing up, he was always getting sick. He missed school. He was often weak and had a fever. Latif had malaria. It is an illness that affects millions of people every year.

Now, he is grown up. He is a doctor and has a child of his own. He has spent six years working on a vaccine. Last week, it was approved by the World Health Organisation

Find out more

Malaria is carried by mosquitoes. Every year, 400,000 people die from it. 

The new vaccine could change this. It is not perfect. It does not work all the time. But experts say it could save 35,000 children. 

Experts have been fighting malaria for more than 100 years. They have found drugs to block the disease. Mosquito nets and bug sprays prevent bites.

So far, nothing has been perfect. Nets break and bug sprays stop working if you use them too much. 

The vaccine is the first ever. Some people say it took a long time because fighting malaria is very complex. But others say it is because rich countries are not in danger from it. The US has been free of malaria for 70 years. Now, it is worst in African and Asian countries. 

Did it take too long?

Some say no. This is a difficult job. We have to do it carefully. There must be lots of tests. We want to keep people safe as well as protecting them! To make sure this happens, we have to make sure the vaccine is safe. 

Others say yes, malaria is not a big problem for rich countries. It has not been top of the list to fix. We got a vaccine for Covid-19 in months! This has taken far too long. 

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  • Some people say

    • "It is impossible to calculate the harm malaria has done to the world."
    • Bill Gates (1955 - ), American businessman and philanthropist. He has donated millions of dollars to the fight against malaria.
    • "With tears and toiling breath,
      I find thy cunning seeds,
      O million-murdering Death."
    • Ronald Ross (1957 - 1932), British medical doctor. He wrote this poem the day he proved malaria was transmitted by mosquitoes.
  • Dive in deeper

    •  The historic news of the world's first malaria vaccine. ITV News (2:34)
    •  A brief history of malaria and the fight to eradicate it. Gates Foundation (6:04)
    •  A useful summary of the facts about the new vaccine. BBC Newsround (800 words)

Six steps to discovery

  1. Draw on what you already know, to understand what you do not yet know

    • 1. Read the bold paragraph under the photo. What do you think about this topic?
    • 2. How does it make you feel?
  2. Identify the questions that will best guide your investigation

    • 1. Watch the first video on the Dive in deeper panel.
    • 2. Note the questions it answers and the questions it raises.
  3. Read the article thoughtfully and make sure you understand the key words

    • 1. Make two columns on a sheet of paper. Go through the article noting down factual claims in one column and opinions in the other.
    • 2. Explain why these facts and opinions are important.
  4. Make sense of what you have read and think about the opinions in Some people say

    • 1. Why might the topic of this article matter to you?
    • 2. To make a better world, what kind of things need to change?
  5. Make a case for your point of view

    • 1. If only we were immune from... ? In small groups, think up ideas for vaccines that could make the world a better place. Share your medical inventions with the class.
    • 2. "If rich people died of malaria, we would find a cure tomorrow." Hold a class debate on this statement. 
  6. Describe what you have learned from this inquiry

    • 1. Make a poster to encourage people to take the new malaria vaccine.
    • 2. Research the barriers and solutions to eradicating malaria. Write an action plan to rid the world of the disease by 2100.