The transmission of viruses between bats and humans is more common than we think. Often there are also intermediary animals that provide the transmission link. This was seen in the M.E.R.S. outbreak in Saudi Arabia in 2012; the animal that served as a bridge between bats and humans was camels.
There is still no certainty that the COVID-19 virus reached humans via bats; research is ongoing. However, we can rest assured that due to the geographic impacts of climate change and the invasion of unspoilt lands and habitats by humans, forcing closer contact between humans and wild animals, more ‘spillovers’ of animal-borne viruses to humankind, are expected in the near future.
We are living in a time so marked by the COVID-19 pandemic that we tend to forget about other diseases that kill higher numbers of people.
We want to take the opportunity to celebrate the launch of the first vaccine against Malaria, which is a tropical disease transmitted by a specific mosquito. This disease kills millions of people, especially new-born babies and children, every year. The vaccine was initially developed for the US Navy, but a more widespread distribution has been quickly imposed due to the annual number of cases and deaths, particularly in Africa and Asia. The vaccine reduces serious illness and mortality by 40%, so general measures of bite prevention, mosquito nets and prophylaxis must continue to be used by all in Malaria prone regions and countries.
The programme of vaccinations is being prioritized at this stage for children up to the age of 11 years, as they are the most vulnerable group affected by the disease.
However, we believe it will soon be rolled out to reach everyone in Malaria affected areas.