WHO approves very first malaria vaccine: “historic event”


Malaria vaccine

BRIAN ONGORO / AFP via Getty Malaria vaccine

The World Health Organization on Wednesday approved the very first malaria vaccine, a vaccine that could save tens of thousands of lives each year, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where cases of mosquito-borne disease are high.

The new vaccine, called Mosquirix, helps the immune system fight a malaria pathogen common in Africa. It is not only the first vaccine to prevent malaria, but the first to prevent parasitic disease.

WHO has approved the vaccine for children in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas affected by malaria. The disease kills around half a million people each year, mostly in Africa. The majority of these deaths – 260,000 – concern children under 5 years old.

The vaccine was 50% effective in preventing severe malaria in clinical trials during the first year of testing. This effectiveness fell to almost zero after four years, but the immediate impacts of the vaccine on areas with malaria cases were well worth it.

“I think we will see that impact,” said Dr Mary Hamel, WHO’s malaria vaccine implementation program manager, according to The New York Times.

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Dr Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s global malaria program, said in a statement that news of the vaccine’s effectiveness is “a historic event” after 100 years of research into a pest vaccine.

“It’s a huge leap from a scientific point of view to have a first generation vaccine against a human parasite,” he added.

The vaccine requires three doses in babies between 5 and 17 months, followed by a fourth dose about 18 months later. After the first clinical trials, it was added to regular immunization programs in Kenya, Malawi and Ghana, and more than 2.3 million doses have been administered to more than 800,000 children to date. Hamel said more than 90% of children in these areas are now protected against malaria.

Malaria vaccine

Malaria vaccine

CRISTINA ALDEHUELA / AFP via Getty Ghanaian child receives malaria vaccine

“We have long hoped for an effective vaccine against malaria and now, for the first time, we have such a vaccine recommended for widespread use,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. “Today’s recommendation offers a glimmer of hope for the continent that bears the heaviest burden of disease and we expect many more African children to be protected from malaria and grow into healthy adults. . “

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