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Malaria vaccination given green light

Thursday October 7th 2021

The world’s first vaccination programme against malaria is to be launched following the success of trials, it has been announced.

The World Health Organisation said the decision was a “breakthrough” which could save the lives of thousands of children.

WHO yesterday recommended the use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) vaccine in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with high to moderate risk.

It wants children to receive four doses of vaccine from the age of five months.

Some 2.3 million doses of vaccine have already been administered in trials in three African countries, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi over the last two years.

They have cut rates of severe malaria by 30% without leading to complacency in local populations – who have continued with use of bednets to prevent bites.

The disease kills more than 260,000 infants in Africa annually.

WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “This is a historic moment. 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.”

WHO’s African regional director Dr Matshidiso Moeti said: “We have long hoped for an effective malaria vaccine and now for the first time ever, we have such a vaccine recommended for widespread use. 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.”

A second vaccine, tested in Burkina Faso, may offer even better protection, Oxford University researchers reported in April. The vaccine is due for widespread trials as so far only 450 children have tried it.

Tags: Africa | Child Health | Pharmaceuticals | World Health

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