World’s First Malaria Vaccine Launched in Malawi

The world’s first malaria vaccine has been launched after spending 30 years in the making. RTS,S has been developed as the first vaccine to prevent malaria, according to World Health Organization (WHO).
On Tuesday, the world’s first malaria vaccine launched in Malawi, as part of a landmark pilot program hoping to protect hundreds of thousands of children under five against malaria, of the world’s leading killers.
WHO reports that RTS,S is the world’s first malaria vaccine launched in Malawi and to-date the only vaccine that has proven it can considerably reduce or prevent malaria in children.
The vaccine was found to prevent about four in ten malaria cases, including three in ten cases of deadly malaria, in clinical trials.
Malawi is the first of three in Africa where RTS,S is to be made available to children up to two years of age. The vaccine will equally be introduced in Ghana and Kenya subsequently.
According to the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in spite of great gains from bed nets and other measures to control malaria in the last 15 years, progress has stalled and even reversed in some areas. The vaccine may serve as a new solution that will possibly save tens of thousands of children’s lives.
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WHO also reminds that the emergence of this novel and first Malaria Vaccine Launched in Malawi shouldn’t overshadow the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention, including the indoor spraying with insecticides, the timely use of malaria testing and treatment, and the routine use of insecticide-treated bed nets.
A result of public-private partnership under the WHO’s coordination, the pilot vaccine program is intended to produce evidence and experience to inform WHO policy recommendations on the broader use of the vaccine.
It will look at reductions in child deaths; vaccine uptake, including whether parents bring their children on time for the four required doses; and vaccine safety in the perspective of routine use.
According to WHO statistics, malaria is one of the world’s leading killers, claiming the life of one child every two minutes. Most of these deaths are in Africa, where more than 250,000 children die from the disease every year.
Children under five are at greatest risk of its deadly complications. Malaria kills 4,35,000 people a year globally, with most of them being children.
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