First-ever malaria vaccine set for roll-out in Africa – WHO
The world’s first malaria vaccine will soon be rolled out in Africa, with twelve countries across the continent expected to receive 18 million doses over the next two years, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday, along with other agencies.
Mosquirix (RTS,S/AS01) shots have already been used in pilot programmes in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, and has been administered to more than 1.7 million children since 2019, the WHO, the Global Vaccine Alliance GAVI, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a joint statement.
Nine more countries –Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Uganda – will soon receive the vaccine for the first time.
“At least 28 African countries have expressed interest in receiving the malaria vaccine,” which has been proven to be “safe and effective,” according to the agencies’ statement.
Kate O’Brien, WHO Director of Immunization, said “the high demand for the vaccine and the strong reach of childhood immunisation will increase equity in access to malaria prevention and save many young lives.”
The first doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in the designated countries during the last quarter of this year, where they will begin rolling out by early 2024.
WHO has designated malaria as one of the deadliest diseases in Africa, saying it killed nearly half a million children under the age of five in 2021 alone. The continent accounted for about 95% of global malaria cases and 96% of malaria deaths in that year, the health agency added.
The RTS,S vaccine, developed by the British multinational pharmaceutical company GSK, is the first drug recommended for use to prevent malaria in children in areas of moderate to high transmission of the disease, according to the WHO.