Malaria vaccine a ‘breakthrough for science’, WHO chief says

Malaria vaccine a ‘breakthrough for science’, WHO chief says

Malaria vaccine a ‘breakthrough for science’, WHO chief says

Written by Amani Nilar

07 Oct, 2021 | 11:48 am

(News 1st); The World Health Organization (WHO) said the only approved vaccine against malaria should be widely given to African children, marking a major advance against a disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people annually.

The WHO recommendation is for RTS,S, sold as “Mosquirix”, is a vaccine developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.

Since 2019, 2.3 million doses of Mosquirix have been administered to infants in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi in a large-scale pilot program coordinated by the WHO. The majority of those whom the disease kills are aged under five.

That program followed a decade of clinical trials in seven African countries.

“This long-awaited malaria vaccine is a breakthrough for science. This is a vaccine developed in Africa by African scientists and we’re very proud,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Using this vaccine in addition to existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year,” he added, referring to anti-malaria measures such as bed nets and spraying.

Malaria is far more deadly than COVID-19 in Africa. It killed 386,000 Africans in 2019, according to a WHO estimate, compared with 212,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in the past 18 months.

The WHO says 94 percent of malaria cases and deaths occur in Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion people. The preventable disease is caused by parasites transmitted to people by the bites of infected mosquitoes; symptoms include fever, vomiting and fatigue.

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