WHO Approves World’s First Malaria Vaccine
More than half of malaria deaths worldwide are in six sub-Saharan African countries, as per 2019 WHO figures.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday, 7 October, endorsed the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine, the first vaccine against the mosquito-borne disease.
Malaria is responsible for the death of more than 4,00,000 people a year, which mostly includes African children, news agency AFP reported.
The decision came after a review of a pilot programme, which was deployed in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi since 2019, in which more than two million doses of the vaccine were given.
WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, after reviewing evidence from those countries, said that WHO was "recommending the broad use of the world's first malaria vaccine".
The WHO has recommended that children in sub-Saharan Africa and in regions with moderate to high malaria transmission should get four doses up to the age of two years.
The agency added that every two minutes, a child dies of malaria. Moreover, more than half of malaria deaths worldwide are in six sub-Saharan African countries and almost a quarter are in Nigeria alone, as per 2019 WHO figures.
Along with fever, headaches and muscle pain, Malaria symptoms include cycles of chills, fever and sweating.
Kate O'Brien, Director of WHO's Department of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals said that findings from the vaccine pilot showed that it "significantly reduces severe malaria, which is the deadly form, by 30 percent", AFP reported.
She added that the vaccine is "feasible to deliver" and “two thirds of children who don't sleep under a bed net in those countries are now benefiting from the vaccine".
This was the first time that the WHO recommended for broad use of a vaccine against a human parasite.
Meanwhile, Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme was quoted as saying, "From a scientific perspective this is a massive breakthrough."
Read more about the vaccine here.
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