THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Sequestration could jeopardize malaria vaccine trial

Officials at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, recently said that the mandatory budget cuts of the sequestration could affect further testing of a potentially groundbreaking malaria vaccine.

Scientists at the facility grow insects and develop vaccines in an effort to create the world's first malaria vaccine to protect U.S. soldiers in malaria-prone countries. Drug companies could then produce the vaccine and extend its protection to people living in malaria-present countries, which is approximately half the world's population, Voice of America reports.

The sequestration would cut approximately $1.5 billion from research and development.

"Without funding to actually conduct the trial, it will delay development of that vaccine," Col. Michael Kozar, the director of the military's infectious disease research, said, according to Voice of America. "It will delay us getting an answer to determining if this is a real breakthrough or just a fluke."

The reduction in research and development funds would cut approximately 10 percent of Walter Reed's budget.

Volunteers at the facility come into the lab regularly to get bitten by mosquitoes on purpose to test the proposed vaccines.

"It's really defeating to see your contribution, the research of that being delayed," Keenan Bailey, a volunteer for a recent trial, said, Voice of America reports.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, malaria cause approximately 655,000 deaths each year worldwide. Eight out of 10 of the deaths occur in children, according to Voice of America.