7 Oct 2021
WHO Endorses World’s First Malaria Vaccine
The Index Today
The world’s first malaria vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization for distribution in sub-Saharan Africa. The vaccine is primarily targeted towards young children in the high-risk region where malaria is rampant, killing over 400,000 people every year.
GlaxoSmithKline PLC began developing the vaccine over a decade ago and has now received endorsement by the WHO to begin rollout and acquire additional investment. The vaccine comprises of four doses over the course of 18 months raising concerns over its efficacy and deployment strategy.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General stated on Wednesday that the new vaccine could help save thousands of lives. He further said, “I longed for the day that we would have an effective vaccine against this ancient and terrible disease. Today is that day. A historic day.”
Combined with additional preventive measures, the vaccine could minimize death rate by almost 45%. It has been reported that around 95% of all deaths caused by malaria are among children, and those who survive face long-term health complications along with a weak immune system. The vaccine is said to reduce the risk of malaria by 35% for around four years in children under four whereas other vaccines for measles or chickenpox have an efficacy of around 90%.
The WHO’s recommendation came after numerous clinical trials and pilot programs were tested. Reports shown that 80% of 6-month babies have received the first dose whereas 41% are yet to receive their fourth dose. It has been estimated that around 50-100 million doses will be required every year to vaccinate the entire region for the next ten years.