It has already been used as part of a pilot program in Ghana, Kenya or Malawi
The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved for the first time in history the widespread use of a vaccine against malaria, which has already been used as part of a pilot program in Ghana, Kenya or Malawi, where it has been vaccinated more than 800,000 children since 2019.
«This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, children’s health, and malaria control. The use of this vaccine in addition to the existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year, “said the Director General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference.
Malaria remains one of the leading causes of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 260,000 African children under the age of five die each year from malaria. In recent years, both the WHO and other organizations have warned of a stagnation in progress against this deadly disease.
“For centuries, malaria has haunted sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering. We have long waited for an effective vaccine against malaria and now, for the first time, we have such a vaccine recommended for widespread use. Today’s recommendation offers a ray of hope for the continent that bears the greatest burden of the disease and we hope that many more African children will be protected against malaria and become healthy adults, “said the WHO regional director. for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti.
Based on advice from two WHO global advisory bodies, one for immunization and one for malaria, it has been recommended that this vaccine, known as RTS, S / AS01 and developed by the pharmaceutical company GSK, be used for prevention. of malaria by ‘P. falciparum ‘in children living in regions with moderate to high transmission.
The vaccine should be administered in a 4-dose schedule in children from 5 months of age to reduce the disease and the burden of malaria.
Data from the pilot program showed a 30 percent reduction in fatal severe malaria, “even when introduced into areas where insecticide-treated nets are widely used and there is good access to diagnosis and treatment,” explains WHO.
Likewise, the results indicate that more than two-thirds of children in the three countries who do not sleep under a mosquito net benefited from the vaccine. ‘The vaccine has a favorable safety profile. The introduction of the vaccine is feasible, with good and equitable coverage through ordinary vaccination systems, “adds the United Nations international health agency.
The vaccine is also considered to be “cost-effective in areas with moderate to high malaria transmission.” Funding for the pilot program comes from a collaboration between three agencies: Gavi, the Alliance for Vaccines; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and Unitaid.