World's First Malaria Vaccine 'Mosquirix' – Why Is It a Breakthrough?

Why did it take so long to develop a vaccine against Malaria? Tune in to The Big Story!

2 min read

Malaria has been prevalent long enough for it to be able to make it to a Bollywood song. But we finally have a breakthrough for us to be able to prevent this infectious parasitic disease that has caused lakhs and lakhs of deaths worldwide, year after year.

On 6 October, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the world's first malaria vaccine – Mosquirix – that has been developed by British pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline in 1987, for malaria prevention in children living in regions with moderate to high transmission of this disease.

Children under five, it has been found out, are the most susceptible to malaria. In 2019, they accounted for 67 percent (2,74,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.


The WHO's recommendation for administering Mosquirix to children is based on the data of an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has been able to provide more than 2.3 million doses to over 8,00,000 children, since 2019.

The efficacy of the vaccine has been proven to be around 40 percent so basically it can prevent four out of 10 cases of malaria. Sure, that's not foolproof but experts have a reason to believe that it is a remarkable development.

The pilot drive found out that the vaccine is safe, cost-effective, improves health, and can saves lives with good and equitable coverage that can be assured through routine immunisation.

And, most importantly, this vaccine was found to be able to prevent three out of 10 cases of severe malaria.

But how does Mosquirix work? Why did it take so long to develop this vaccine? What will be the impact of scientific development in developing countries in Africa and also India where malaria infections are prevalent?

In this episode of The Big Story, we take all our questions to Dr Ambarish Dutta, Associate Professor of epidemiology at the Indian Institute of Public Health, Bhubaneswar. Tune in!

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