Malawi leads world with malaria vaccine for young children

Malawi leads world with malaria vaccine for young children

Malawi leads world with malaria vaccine for young children

"This malaria vaccine is going to save many lives, even if it is not as good as we would like", Craig said.

The parasitic disease kills about 435,000 people every year, the majority of them children under 5 in Africa.

"Malaria is still a tragically deadly disease".

"It's intolerable, the devastating effect for the families, societies". They also found that it prevented three in ten cases of life-threatening malaria.

A Health Surveillance Assistant gives a dose of the Malaria Vaccine into the first recipient on April 23, 2019 at Mitundu Community hospital in Malawi's capital district of Lilongwe on the first day of the Malaria vaccine implementation pilot program in Malawi aiming to immunize 120,000 children aged two years and under to assess the effectiveness of the pilot vaccine and whether the delivery process is feasible.

Kate O'Brien, MD, director of the WHO's Department of Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals outlined how this vaccine represents a series of firsts - among them, it was the first and only vaccine to show some protection against malaria in Africa (namely against the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, the most prevalent on the continent), the first malaria vaccine to be recommended by the World Health Organization, and the first vaccine to reach children in Africa through a routine immunization program, not a clinical trial.

A study showed that the innovative vaccine prevented about four in 10 malaria cases among children and "overall, there were 29% fewer cases of severe malaria in children who received the vaccine".

"Thirty years in the making, RTS, S is the first and to date, the only, vaccine that has demonstrated it can significantly reduce malaria in children".

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The pilot programme - expected to last until the end of 2022 - now aims to reach some 360,000 children per year across the three countries.

Although the potential vaccine will not give full protection against the mosquito-borne disease, it is the furthest along in development and so far the most effective.

"So, this vaccine is a huge plus to Malawi", he said. "The fight against malaria is one where we use imperfect tools; only when we combine them can we achieve great impact".

"This new vaccination is a new tool for the control and elimination of malaria in this country", Michael Kayange, deputy director in Malawi?s health ministry told AFP.

The pilot program for the RTS, S vaccine launched in Malawi and is available to children 2 years and under.

"This is the first time that a malaria vaccine has been recommended for phased introduction in several settings in Africa by WHO's top advisory committees for malaria and immunisation".

Alonso called the vaccination rollout a "historical moment", noting that it was significantly more hard to design a vaccine against a parasite as opposed to a bacterium or virus.

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