This October 6, the global health entity announced that it is safe to use the injection to combat a disease that consumes thousands of lives per year in Africa, being a historic milestone for medicine. Likewise, its effectiveness is relatively low and it will not replace the prevention pack.
An important advance for science was confirmed this Wednesday after the World Health Organization recommended that the use of the first vaccine be extended to face malaria.
Currently, Ghana, Malawi and Kenya are piloting it to show that it is safe and can be combined with existing prevention measures because its effectiveness is relatively low, but it will not replace them.
However, in this trio of nations the inoculant was introduced in 2019. They administered 2.3 million doses and 800,000 children received at least one injection. Pedro Alonso, director of the Global Program against Malaria, declared that it is “the best possible investment made in public health.”
This vaccine, which is called RTS, S is a momentous event in history as it is the first to be developed by a platform of African researchers. It will be a strong tool to combat and, above all, prevent the disease that has high mortality rates – over 90% – in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The number of malaria cases in the world is still alarming
“This vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the official announcement. “We have made incredible progress in the last two decades, malaria cases have fallen by half, but on a global scale, cases remain at a very high level,” he said.
The malaria numbers are staggering, reaching 200 million cases per year and more than 400,000 deaths, of which 260,000 correspond to children under five years of age.
The approval of expanded use of the vaccine will enable the incorporation of the disease prevention package, consisting of mosquito nets impregnated with insecticides, prophylactic drugs, diagnostics and treatments.
The study that was carried out in the three African countries gave rise to the confirmation of the possibility of administering the four doses of this vaccine, the reduction of infant deaths and that it can be integrated into national immunization programs. The research found that the vaccine can reduce severe cases that lead to death by 30%.
The product of the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, Mosquirix – its commercial name – will now have to await external investments for its extension on the continent. “We hope that this will stimulate the resumption of research to try to develop other vaccines against malaria,” said Alonso.