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WHO Endorses World’s First Malaria Vaccine

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the widespread use of the world’s first malaria vaccine on Wednesday.

The RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine, also called Mosquirix, was developed by pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline to act against Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally and is also the most prevalent in Africa. Mosquirix is the first malaria vaccine that has completed the clinical development process and received a positive scientific opinion from the European Medicines Agency (EMA). It will be given to children from 5 months in four doses in regions with moderate to high transmission.

WHO’s recommendation is based on the result of its pilot vaccination program, inoculating more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi since 2019.

According to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health, and malaria control. “Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year,” he added.

Each year, more than 260,000 African children under five succumb to this deadly disease, making it a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. “For centuries, malaria has stalked sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

The WHO recommendation brings the Mosquirix vaccine closer to a broader rollout and endemic countries deciding whether to adopt the vaccine as part of national malaria control strategies.

Today’s recommendation offers a glimmer of hope for the continent which shoulders the heaviest burden of the disease and we expect many more African children to be protected from malaria and grow into healthy adults.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti


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