Yesterday, the World Health Organization endorsed RTS, S/AS01 as the first ever malaria vaccine to grace the world. Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease which kills close to 400,000 people per year especially in Africa with more that have the deaths worldwide being from Sub-Saharan Africa while almost quarter are recorded from Nigeria. WHO also informed in a 2019 report that every two minutes, a baby dies of malaria.
The decision to pass the vaccine based on results of the pilot study which has been running since 2019 in three African countries of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi where two million vaccines made by the pharmaceutical company GSK in 1987 were given.
Upon receiving evidence from the said region on the efficiency of the vaccine, the agency’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the WHO is “recommending the broad use of the world’s first malaria vaccine.
From the pilot study, a conclusion was drawn that the vaccine “significantly reduces severe malaria which is the deadly form by 30%” informed Kate O’Brien, the director of WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals.
Additionally, she said the vaccine is “feasible to deliver, 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.
Conclusively, the World Health Organization said it recommends that children in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as areas with a high malaria transmission rate should get up to four doses of the vaccine until they turn two years of age.
Although various vaccines have been made for viral and bacterial infections, this is the first time a vaccine is being made for the plasmodium falciparum which is one of five malaria parasite species and the most deadly. No wonder, Pedro Alonso described it as “from a scientific perspective this is a massive breakthrough.”