Target Malaria’s scientists are working to rid Africa of an ancient plague

D. Matthews,  Vox,  2022.

This could very well be the last century in human history when people die from malaria. If and when we do eradicate the disease, the team at Target Malaria will probably deserve a big share of the credit. Their plan to use gene drive technology to wipe out species of mosquitoes carrying the parasitic illness represents the most promising path to eradicating a disease that killed on the order of 150 million to 300 million people over the 20th century, and still kills hundreds of thousands each year. Malaria used to be broadly common across most of the populated world, covering much of North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia, in addition to its current locations in Africa, Latin America, and South Asia. As the researchers Max Roser and Hannah Ritchie note, “poet Friedrich Schiller contracted the disease in Mannheim, Oliver Cromwell in Ireland, and Abraham Lincoln in Illinois.” Malaria no longer exists in those areas due to decades of public health measures like the drainage of mosquito breeding sites and use of pesticides like DDT, as well as economic development that gave residents resources to prevent and treat the disease.

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