Health New malaria vaccine trial in Malawi marks ‘an innovation milestone’ ( UN health agency)
A new vaccine against deadly malaria which has been 30 years in development, was made available for the first time to infants in Malawi on Tuesday, marking an “innovation milestone”, said the World Health Organization (WHO).The disease remains on the of the world’s leading killers, with one child dying every two minutes. Most of the fatalities are in Africa, where more than 250,000 children die each year.
Known officially as the RTS,S, vaccine, it will also be introduced in Ghana and Kenya in the coming weeks. “We have seen tremendous gains from bed nets and other measures to control malaria, but progress has stalled and even reversed in some areas”, said WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus.
RTS,S, is the first and only vaccine so far, that has demonstrated it can “significantly reduce” malaria in children so far, during clinical trials. It was successful in approximately four in 10 cases, including three in 10 cases, where the disease was life-threatening to the young patient.
The malaria vaccine pilot aims to reach about 360,000 children per year across the three countries. Dr. Seth Berkley, Chief Executive of the global public and private sector vaccine alliance, Gavi, said that Malaria continues to be “one of the biggest killers of children worldwide”, taking the lives of over 200,000 every year.