A study on over 15000 children in 7 African countries shows GlaxoSmithKline's anti-malaria vaccine halves the risk of contracting malaria. The trials were run on children between 6 and 12 weeks old, and between 5 and 17 months old.

Guardian article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/oct/18/malaria-vaccine-save-millions-children

Full paper: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1102287

From skimming the paper, this looks sound. GlaxoSmithKline both developed the vaccine and paid for the study, but that's standard. The disclosure forms don't show anything fishier.

There are ways this could go wrong. GlaxoSmithKline says they'll make it cheap (probably for PR) but this is not sufficient to ensure availability. This could also increase total risk by replacing bed nets, or by making other diseases worse.

Thoughts on the research? Comments on effects? Plans for wild celebration?

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Malaria needs people as part of its life cycle.

If 50% effective vaccine saturates an area, malaria could decline by more than 50% as fewer humans pass it to mosquitoes.

Plans for wild celebration?

Plans for a restrained English nod of approval. "Good chaps!"

Good news, time for cautious optimism and continued diligence (as ever)!

Remains to be seen how long immunity lasts (early trials showed immunity waning after 12-18 months), frequent re-vaccination wouldn't be viable in most of the world's malaria-endemic areas.

This vaccine provides immunity against the sporozoite (first life stage of Plasmodium), so it will only be effective against new infections. I believe there are other vaccines in the pipeline that target multiple life stages of the parasite.

Note that there was an increase in meningitis incidence in the experimental group. This could be random, a result of the placebo vaccine choice, or something else.

There have been good results pairing bed net distribution with vaccination campaigns for other diseases, it would be great to see that kind of program develop.

Beautiful to see another nail in death's coffin.

Malaria also makes children tired and sickly for a fraction of every year. Not having malaria will improve quality of life and help education for a much larger population even than the population that would have died from malaria.

I looked for some references (10 percent absenteeism due to being ill, one fourth sick during an 11 week period, not so high in some other studies) but my impression anecdotally is that fighting malaria makes you very tired, which might be harder to quantify.

The intro microeconomics class I teach had a long discussion, often getting into moral issues, about Occupy Wall Street. Your post caused me to send the following email to my class:

Please read this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/oct/18/malaria-vaccine-save-millions-children

Wall Street has, I'm almost certain, helped GlaxoSmithKline raise significant sums of money and provided liquidity for its investors. Anyone pushing for radical reform of Wall Street without considering how possible reforms will impact companies such as GlaxoSmithKline is no friend of mankind.

From a social perspective, your email was problematic because it labels your students ("no friend of mankind") in a way that they would disagree with, which should be avoided because it puts the reader on the defensive and pulls your message closer to all the bad pieces of writing out there than to the good ones. Less obvious but probably more disruptive to your class environment is the tone - you generalize very quickly, using language that leads people to think in the paths of politics, not rational discourse.

From a factual perspective, read this: http://lesswrong.com/lw/hu/the_third_alternative/

is generally frowned upon

teachers often talk to their students in ways that would be "generally frowned upon" if it took place outside of teacher-student interactions.

labels your students

To the best of my knowledge none of my students were involved in Occupy Wall Street.

you generalize very quickly

the generalization came after we had a long class discussion (which students' initiated) about Occupy Wall Street.

From a factual perspective, read this: http://lesswrong.com/lw/hu/the_third_alternative/

Please explain what you mean by this.

is generally frowned upon

teachers often talk to their students in ways that would be "generally frowned upon" if it took place outside of teacher-student interactions.

I've explained more what I meant above. But yes, generally frowned upon even for teachers, especially since the label is not education-related.

you generalize very quickly

the generalization came after we had a long class discussion

The quickly does not refer to you not thinking about it. It means "quickly, within the structure of your argument," which gives an accusatory feel often used in political polemics.

From a factual perspective, read this: http://lesswrong.com/lw/hu/the_third_alternative/

Please explain what you mean by this.

Is there literally no possible agent you an imagine that you would call "a friend of humankind" that would "push{} for radical reform of Wall Street without considering how possible reforms will impact {} GlaxoSmithKline?" I suppose if you really want to stick to your guns on that one, the problem becomes one of you wanting to use a different definition than your students, and so you should play rationalist taboo.