You want "Wonderful Things," I gives ya Wonderful Things. MenAfriVac is a new vaccine for meningitis A—a disease that kills thousands of people in Africa every year. It's far, far cheaper than previous vaccines ... and it works better, too.
MenAfriVac is much cheaper than existing meningitis A vaccines, at 50¢ compared with $120 per dose. It is also more potent. Unlike conventional vaccines, which are based on sugars resembling those on the surface of Neisseria meningitides, a bacterium that causes meningitis, the new vaccine splices the sugars to a carrier protein that is better at stirring up the body's immune system. "It makes the immune response much more vigorous," says Marc LaForce, director of the global Meningitis Vaccine Project, which developed MenAfriVac.
Antibodies against the bacterium continue to be produced long after vaccination, providing hope that a single jab may be enough to give lifelong protection.
So far, no recipient of the vaccine has been infected, and the few cases that have occurred in treated areas were unvaccinated visitors from neighbouring areas.
MenAfriVac is currently being rolled out in the 25 countries, from Senegal to Sudan, that make up Africa's "meningitis belt."
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.