360,000 African children to receive world’s first malaria vaccine
The World Health Organisation has announced its plans to vaccinate 360,000 children in three African countries. The children will receive the first ever malaria vaccine.
The vaccine is already in use in some African countries, as Malawi has commenced the vaccination drive by vaccinating children under the age of 2. Ghana and Kenya will soon follow suit a short while from now.
How the new vaccine works
Clinical trials have shown that the vaccine is able to offer partial protection from malaria. Findings also show that the malaria vaccine prevents malaria in 4 out of 10 cases, says WHO. This shows that the vaccine can potentially save thousands of children from the dreaded disease.
The Director-General of the World Health Organisation Dr Tedros Adhanom had this to say about the breakthrough vaccine: “We need new solutions to get the malaria response back on track, and this vaccine gives us a promising tool to get there.”
There have been other measures like treated bed nets to prevent mosquito bites and malaria, but nothing done in the past have been as revolutionary as the malaria vaccine.
What is malaria?
Malaria kills 435,000 people every year. It is a parasitic disease that gets transmitted when a person get bitten by the female Anopheles mosquitoes. According to the World Health Organisation , the demographic who suffers the most from deadly malaria complications are children under the age of 5. The mortality rates are alarming: malaria claims the lives of 250,000 children every year.
The new malaria vaccine
GSK created the RTS,S, or Mosquirix vaccine in 1987. After going through numerous tests, it is finally ready for use. Children will receive the vaccine in four doses from when they are 5 months old till their 2nd birthday.
WHO recommends that the vaccine should be used alongside other malaria prevention measures like mosquito treated nets and insecticides.