With the Covid-19 pandemic closing down economic activities around the world, there has been much discussion about human relationship to nature. Stories about wild animals taking back spaces normally used by people, but also complex issues around wildlife trade and the impact of the lockdown on poaching highlight the impact that human activity has on the environment in a myriad of ways. It also highlights that nature is resilient and would rapidly adapt if human activity was to change. This gives us hope that biodiversity loss and environmental damage could be reversed or mitigated if we adopt different lifestyles and consumption patterns.  Nature’s resiliency and ingenuity should be a source of inspiration and innovation.

Scientists have discovered a microbe, Microsporidia MB, that completely protects mosquitoes from being infected with malaria. The microbe was found in the gut and genitals of mosquitoes on the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya. Lab experiments confirmed that Microsporidia gave the mosquitoes protection and suggested 100% blockage of the malaria parasite. However, it is yet not clear how the microbe stops the disease.

Researchers are now investigating two methods to increase the number of mosquitoes carrying Microsporidia: the release en masse of the microbe's spores, and the release of male mosquitoes infected in the lab with Microsporidia to pass on the microbe to females when they mate.

The Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) launched the APMEN TechTalks, a series of webinars to exchange research information on malaria eradication and discuss technical topics of interest. The APMEN Vector Control Working Group will host the sessions, which will focus on vector control methods. Topics of discussion include surveillance programs, insecticide resistance, endectocide-based vector control, social engagement for personal transmission risk reduction, among others.

You can now watch online the panel The Malaria Endgame: Innovation in Therapeutics, Vector Control and Public Health Tools, filmed during the Keystone Symposia Conference last year. Speakers discussed the current state of the field, as well as trends and challenges in the fight against malaria. Vaccines, the impact of co-infections in Africa, and the use of genetically modified mosquitoes to control the disease are some of the topics addressed.

The panel features representatives from the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP), Ethiopian Society of Tropical and Infectious Diseases (ESTAIDs), International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, and Armauer Hansen Research Institute.

Written by Samantha O’Loughlin, Target Malaria

As I write, here in the UK we are in lockdown to try to stem a disease pandemic that is causing global suffering and deaths. We are all unsure about what the future holds.

Imagine a world where Covid-19 is endemic. Scientists are still struggling to develop an effective vaccine. Imagine if we all know we will have to take two or three weeks off work sick every year. We feel the familiar start of a fever and know that we are in for a rough few days - again. We hope that this time will not be worse; we won’t end up in hospital like our brother, or will never come home from hospital like our grandmother. Imagine that the health care system in your country cannot cope, and that there are not enough hospital beds to go around or doctors to treat you.

If you replace the words ‘Covid-19’ with ‘malaria’ in the paragraph above, this is the sad reality for most people living in sub-Saharan Africa. When I am working with my colleagues in Burkina Faso or Uganda it is common for someone to start looking unwell. ‘Don’t worry’ they say, ‘it is just malaria’. Usually, they stay home for a few days, but sometimes it develops into something far worse.