‘Massive breakthrough’: WHO recommends use of first malaria vaccine for children

WHO says it was 'recommending the broad use of the world's first malaria vaccine'


AFP October 06, 2021
PHOTO: FILE

The World Health Organisation on Wednesday endorsed the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine for children, the first against the mosquito-borne disease that kills more than 400,000 a year.

The decision followed a review of a pilot programme deployed since 2019 in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi where more than two million doses were given of the vaccine, first made by the pharmaceutical company GSK in 1987.

After reviewing evidence from those countries, WHO said it was "recommending the broad use of the world's first malaria vaccine", the agency's director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Read more: WHO chief meets Taliban leaders to assess humanitarian needs in Afghanistan

The WHO said in a statement it was recommending the widespread application of the vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high malaria transmission.

Many vaccines exist against viruses and bacteria but this was the first time that the WHO recommended for broad use a vaccine against a human parasite.

"From a scientific perspective this is a massive breakthrough," said Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme.

Also read: WHO offers to set up more vaccination centres

The vaccine acts against plasmodium falciparum - one of five parasite species and the most deadly.

Malaria symptoms include fever, headaches and muscle pain, then cycles of chills, fever and sweating.

Every two minutes, a child dies of malaria, according to the World Health Organisation.

Before the newly recommended vaccine can reach African children, the next step will be funding.

"That will be the next major step... Then we will be set up for scaling of doses and decisions about where the vaccine will be most useful and how it will be deployed," said Kate O'Brien, Director of WHO's Department of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals

COMMENTS

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

E-Publications

Most Read