26.2 C
Saturday, April 1, 2023

WHO Approves World’s First Malaria Vaccine

Must read

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday endorsed the first ever vaccine to prevent malaria, debuting a tool that could save the lives of tens of thousands of children in Africa each year.

Called Mosquirix, the new vaccine is given in three doses to children between ages five and 17 months, and a fourth dose roughly 18 months later. Following the clinical trials, the vaccine was tried out in three countries.

Malaria is among the oldest known and deadliest of infectious diseases, killing about half a million people each year, nearly all of them in sub-Saharan Africa and among them 260,000 children under age five.

The new vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, rouses a child’s immune system to thwart Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of five malaria pathogens and the most prevalent in Africa.

The New York Times reported that the vaccine was not just a first for malaria, but the first developed for any parasitic disease.

However, the report stated that in clinical trials, the vaccine had an efficacy of about 50 per cent against severe malaria in the first year, but dropped close to zero by the fourth year.

In addition, it stressed that the trials did not measure the vaccine’s impact on preventing deaths, which has led some experts to question whether it is a worthwhile investment in countries with countless other intractable problems.

But severe malaria accounts for up to half of malaria deaths and is considered “a reliable proximal indicator of mortality. I do expect we will see that impact,” Dr. Mary Hamel, who leads the WHO’s malaria vaccine implementation programme, said.

A modelling study last year had estimated that if the vaccine were rolled out to countries with the highest incidence of malaria, it could prevent 5.4 million cases and 23,000 deaths in children younger than age five each year.

A recent trial of the vaccine in combination with preventive drugs given to children during high-transmission seasons found that the dual approach was much more effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalisation and death than either method alone.

To have a malaria vaccine that is safe, moderately effective and ready for distribution is “a historical event,” Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme, Dr. Pedro Alonso said.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

More articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

- Advertisement -

Latest article