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World’s First Malaria Vaccine To Reach Hundreds Of African Children

The world’s first malaria vaccine will roll out to 360,000 children from three African countries in a year. This is a part of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) large-scale pilot project.

 

According to WHO, Malawi has already started vaccinating children under two years of age. Kenya and Ghana are also expected to begin vaccination in a few weeks. The vaccine will offer partial protection from the disease. Clinical tests showed that the vaccine prevents approximately four in 10 malaria cases.

 

In a press statement, the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom, said that they have seen improvement from other methods like mosquito nets to control malaria in the last 15 years. He, however, acknowledged that progress has stalled. He said,

“We need new solutions to get the malaria response back on track, and this vaccine gives us a promising tool to get there.”

 

Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted through a bite from the female Anopheles mosquito. Even though it is curable and preventable, an estimated 435,000 people die from it every year. About 250,000 of them are children.

 

Children under the age of five are at greater risk. The WHO claims the disease kills one child every two minutes.

 

Malaria Vaccine

 

Mosquirix

Scientists at British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline created the vaccine in 1987. The RTS, also known as Mosquirix, has since undergone years of testing with support from many organisations.

 

The vaccine is taken in four doses: three between five and nine months and the remaining one when the child is about two years old.

 

WHO revealed in its findings that from 2000 to 2015, there was a 62% reduction in malaria deaths. But recent data now suggests that the cases are starting to increase. The organisation reported about 217 million cases in 2016; this increased to almost 219 million in 2017.

 

The vaccine, however, should be used with other control methods. Insecticides, mosquito nets, door spraying and clean environments are still very much recommended.

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