The World Health Organization has approved a vaccine first-ever against malaria for children in sub-Saharan Africa. It said the vaccine proved to be safe and reduced severe malaria by 30% in children. It was on that kids who enrolled in a pilot program in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the vaccine a major victory in the fight against one of the world’s worst infectious diseases. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said,
“This long-awaited malaria vaccine is a breakthrough for science, child health, and malaria control. Using this vaccine in addition to existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.”
The vaccine, Mosquirix, is not just a first for malaria it is the first developed for any parasitic disease. Parasites are much more complex than viruses or bacteria. Including the quest for a malaria vaccine has been underway for a hundred years.
The next step is for Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, to determine that the vaccine is a worthwhile investment. If the organization’s board approves the vaccine not guaranteed, given the vaccine’s moderate efficacy.
But as with Covid-19, problems with vaccine production and supply could delay progress. Besides the pandemic has also diverted resources and attention from other diseases, said Deepali Patel. Deepali Patel leads malaria vaccine programs at Gavi.
Malaria is rare in the developed world. There are just 2,000 cases in the United States each year, mostly among travelers returning from countries in which the disease is endemic.
More than 2.3 million doses have been administered in those countries, reaching more than 800,000 children. That bumped up the percentage of children protected against malaria in some way to more than 90 percent, from less than 70 percent, Dr. Hamel said.
Malaria kills about 500,000 people each year. Even half of them children are in Africa. Meanwhile, experts said, the new vaccine isn’t perfect, but it will help turn the tide.