Malaria & COVID-19: the backside of the coin
Could it really be that malaria infections protect against COVID-19 as was presented during the ASTMH conference this week? Would there actually be a positive effect of having survived malaria? It makes me think of that one time when malaria almost killed me. I have always been very careful not to get bitten by mosquitoes. But this one time it went very wrong. It was July 1994 when I traveled to Tanzania. Once I got to Zanzibar I felt really sick. I had taken chloroquine as prophylaxis because I refused to take the disputed Lariam (mefloquine). I had actually witnessed somebody going bananas after taking a curative dose of mefloquine, so no thank you. Instantly I realised that I most likely was down with malaria and decided to take Fansidar (sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine) as a cure. Not wise, I realised that too late. By the time I made it to the small hospital in Stone Town, I passed out. The world turned black. Thanks to the great doctor and nurse who got me on a quinine drip, antibiotics and more, I was discharged after a few days. It took me six months to recover and get my strength back. How lucky had I been. But it made me wonder how a vulnerable baby or young child could possibly survive such a devastating malaria attack.
Now you know how I became interested in devoting my life to working on malaria. Back to COVID-19. I will not try my luck this time, but I certainly hope that malaria exposure is linked to a lower risk of COVID-19 infection. Interested to read more about the presentations from ASTMH this week? Then you should read the MESA ASTMH reports. Day 1, 2 and 3 are ready, please see below.
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MESA Webinar 6 - Malaria in the Shadows: Putting the Focus on the Challenges of P. vivax
Date: Wednesday, December 1, 2021 | Time: 7:00 am EST | 1:00 pm CET | 2:00 pm CAT | 8:00 pm SGT. Speakers: Marcus Lacerda (Tropical Medicine Foundation Dr Heitor Vieira Dourado, FMT-HVD, Brazil) and Wanlapa Roobsoong (Mahidol University, Thailand). Moderator: Fitsum G Tadesse (Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI), Ethiopia).
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Podcast - Johns Hopkins Malaria Minute
Podcast #6 | 26 November 2021: New scientific insights into malaria recurrence in low parasitemia infections is due to relapse rather than infection, determined by DNA sequencing.
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MESA Correspondents reporting from the ASTMH 2021 Annual Meeting (virtual)
Day 1: Wednesday, 17th November - Young Investigators Award Sessions
The 70th Annual ASTMH virtual meeting started with the Young Investigators Award Sessions. These awards are given for work presented by young investigators to recognise their work and to encourage young scientists to pursue careers in tropical disease research.
Read the report ASTMH Day 1
Day 2: Thursday, November 18 - the MESA Correspondents reported from the following sessions:
- Symposium #12: Entomological Data to Guide Strategic Deployment of New Types of Insecticide Treated Nets for Control of Pyrethroid Resistant Malaria Vectors. Speakers: Amy Lynd, Joseph Chabi, Ellie Sherard-Smith and Constant Gbalegba.
- Symposium #15: Late-Breakers in Malaria. Speakers: Adriana Harbuzariu, Karamoko Niare, Laura Hagenah, Jack Hutter, Vaseline Stefanova, Wes Boland and Julie Wright.
- Symposium #19: Malaria: Epidemiology I - Surveillance Strategies. Speakers: Arnau Pujol, Melissa Conrad, Christine Markwalter, Lek Dysoley, Jessica McCaffery and Philipp Schwabl.
- Symposium #22: Malaria: Vaccines. Speakers: Aaron Samuels, Mehreen Datoo, Evelina Angov, Luna Barroco de Lacerda, Issaka Sagara, Sara Healy and Felicia Watson.
- Symposium #27: Expanding the Use of Radical Cure to Patients with Uncomplicated Malaria Due to Any Plasmodia Species. Speakers: Robert Commons, Jeanne Rini Poespoprodjo, James Walker and Angela Devine.
- Symposium #28: Early Experience and Next Steps in the Evaluation of the Attractive Targeted Sugar Bait for Malaria Control in Kenya, Mali and Zambia.Speakers: Helen Jamet, Eric Ochomo, Kafula Silumbe and Mohamed Traore.
- Symposium #33: Towards a Next-Generation Malaria Vaccine Portfolio: Innovations in Malaria Vaccine Development. Speakers: B. Kim Lee Sim, Simon Draper, Hernando del Portillo and Ashley Birkett.
- Symposium #35: Community Delivery of Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPTp): How It Contributes to the Goal of Improved Maternal and Newborn Health Outcomes. Speakers: Pedro L. Alonso, Odete Cossa, Hebert Onuoha, Ogonna Nwankwo and Clara Menéndez.
Day 3: Friday, November 19 - the MESA Correspondents reported from the following sessions:
Symposium #52: Trials of Malaria Vaccines in Pregnant Women. Speakers: Blair Wylie, Michal Fried, Halimatou Diawara and Morten Nielsen.
Symposium #57 - Alan J. Magill Malaria Eradication: Keeping Malaria Eliminations on Track: The Successes and Challenges on the Pathway to Eradication. Speakers: María Eugenia Grillet, Rajesh Panjabi, Corine Karema and Pedro Alonso.
Symposium #60: Malaria: Data to Inform and Target Malaria Elimination Strategies. Speakers: Rodrigo M. Corder, Prayuth Sudathin, Maylis Douine, May Me Thet, Will Stone and Erica Berlin.
Symposium #65: Malaria: Drug Treatment, Resistance and Clinical Trials. Speakers: Faiza Siddiqui, Melissa Rosenthal, Jean Moïse Tanga Kabore, Mackenzie Sievert, Johan van der Plas, Bridget Barber and Thierry Masserey.
Symposium #71: Challenges in Malaria Diagnosis. Speakers: Jessica McCaffery, Dean Sayre, Han Zhang, Claudia Vera-Arias, Maggy Sikulu-Lord, Wataru Kagaya and Retno Utami.
Malaria Vaccine Gets Green Light - Living on Earth with Prof. Dyann Wirth
Malaria is responsible for almost a half-million deaths every year, many of them among children. Researchers have been working on developing a malaria vaccine for nearly a half century, and at last the World Health Organization has given its first-ever stamp of approval to a malaria vaccine. Immunologist Dyann Wirth of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health joins Living on Earth's Aynsley O'Neill for more.
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Malaria News at a Glance
Research suggests malaria exposure could reduce COVID-19 severity
22 November 2021, Devex
New research from Uganda and Mali suggests malaria exposure might lower the incidence of severe disease, hospitalization, and death for people exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The research findings, presented at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s annual meeting last week, found low levels of severe COVID-19 symptoms among people exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in areas with high malaria burdens, leading researchers to hypothesize that previous malaria exposure could offer its survivors a shield against COVID-19.
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Scientists create a new best-in-class anti-malarial antibody
17 November 2021, ScienceDaily
Malaria, which kills more than 400,000 people annually, seems to have far outstripped COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa. Monoclonal antibodies could fill gaps left by even highly effective vaccines, but deployment is a challenge largely due to the amount of antibody currently required for infusion. Researchers have created a new best-in-class anti-malarial antibody with an approach that may allow them to create even more protective variants of anti-malarial monoclonal antibodies.
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Tackling malaria in South Sudan: Prevention is key
18 November 2021, Doctors Without Borders
"I will stay here until she gets better," said Rebecca Achol Atak while sitting next to her granddaughter’s bed in Aweil State Hospital in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan. Atong had suffered from severe fever and vomiting before traveling two days on foot with her grandmother to seek medical help. When she finally made it to the hospital, the medical staff did everything they could to help her. Unfortunately, it was too late.
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During the past week dozens of new scientific malaria publications were published on MalariaWorld
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