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New malaria vaccine for children recommended by WHO

Republika

The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly recommends the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) vaccine called Mosquirix for widespread use in regions with moderate to high malaria infections. Over 270,000 children under 5 years old in Africa alone died of it back in 2019.


Sub-Saharan Africa in particular has a serious malaria problem. The disease is the biggest cause of childhood illness and death there due to the existing parasites. Out of the five various malaria parasite types, Plasmodium falciparum is the most deadly. Stanford Health Care says patients who have intensive falciparum malaria can end up in a coma, get convulsions, or develop kidney and liver failure.


WHO’s approval was based on results from a pilot program that’s ongoing in Malawi, Ghana, and Kenya. A 30% reduction in fatal severe malaria was cited, even in areas where diagnosis and treatment is already accessible.


Given that the effectiveness basically equates to 3 out of 10 severe malaria cases being prevented, the journal Nature called the vaccine efficacy “modest.”


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States, it’s a “historic” occasion. Development of the malaria vaccine has been ongoing since the 1960s.


WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, released a statement calling it a breakthrough: “The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health, and malaria control. Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.”


In a press release, WHO’s regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS stated that “[the] recommendation offers a glimmer of hope for the continent which shoulders the heaviest burden of the disease, and we expect many more African children to be protected from malaria and grow into healthy adults.”


Mosquirix is produced by Glaxo- SmithKline Biologicals and has been under development since the 1980s.


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