On Wednesday, The World Health Organization approved RTS,S/AS01 as the vaccine against malaria. Malaria is a disease that is mosquito-born. Near about 400,000 die in a year due to malaria. Mostly the deaths happen among African children.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the agency’s director general, said, “Today, WHO is recommending the broad use of the world’s first malaria vaccine.”
Since 2019, a pilot program was ongoing in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi in which around 2 million doses were given of vaccine. In 1987, this was first made by GSK, a pharmaceutical company.
The WHO then reviewed the evidence from those countries and said “recommending the broad use of the world’s first malaria vaccine”.
Up to the age of 2, four doses of vaccine is recommended for children in the region of sub-Saharan Africa. The agency mentioned that a child dies due to malaria in every two minute.
As per 2019 WHO data, in six sub-Saharan African countries there are more than half of malaria deaths worldwide and in Nigeria it is almost equal to a quarter.
Symptoms of this disease include headache, pain in muscles, fever and sweats.
Kate O’Brien, Director of WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals said regrading the vaccine that,”significantly reduces severe malaria which is the deadly form by 30 percent.” She further added that the vaccine is “feasible to deliver”, she added and “it’s also reaching the unreached… Two thirds of children who don’t sleep under a bed net in those countries are now benefiting from the vaccine.”
Against this disease many vaccines are made, but this was the first time that WHO approved a vaccine for public use. The vaccine acts against plasmodium falciparum – one of five malaria parasite species and the most deadly.
Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, said,”From a scientific perspective this is a massive breakthrough.”