APR 24, 2019 07:53 AM PDT

Malaria Vaccine Program Begins in Malawi

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

It’s estimated that malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, sickens 200 million people every year, killing around 435,000. Children are most vulnerable; malaria is thought to kill one child every minute. There have been significant efforts to create a vaccine, and now the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a malaria vaccine program in Malawi, which will be the first of its kind. The vaccine will now be given to Malawian children under the age of two, and the initiative will expand to Ghana and Kenya in the next few weeks. 

“We have seen tremendous gains from bed nets and other measures to control malaria in the last 15 years, but progress has stalled and even reversed in some areas. We need new solutions to get the malaria response back on track, and this vaccine gives us a promising tool to get there,” noted WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The malaria vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of children’s lives.”

WHO sought countries that were interested in implementing the program. They selected the three nations after looking at ten candidates and several criteria, including ensuring that the countries would be able to carry out the immunizations and that they were experiencing moderate or high rates of malaria transmission. Children that receive the vaccine will get four doses - three between the ages of five and nine months, and the fourth and final dose around age two.

“Malaria is still one of the biggest killers of children worldwide, taking the lives of over 200,000 children every year. These pilots will be crucial to determine the part this vaccine could play in reducing the burden this disease continues to place on the world’s poorest countries,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The vaccine, called RTS,S, was first created in 1987 by GSK scientists. From 2009 to 2014, it was tested in Africa in Phase 3 trials. The vaccine was found to prevent four in ten clinical cases of malaria, and three in ten cases of severe malaria. Importantly, it stopped six in ten instances of the most common cause of malaria-related childhood deaths, severe malaria anemia. There were also major reductions in admissions to hospitals, and less of a need for blood transfusions to treat the severe anemia caused by malaria. Although bed nets treated with insecticide, quick diagnosis and improved treatment were helping in some areas, the vaccine can make a massive difference for children and their families.

“To step up the fight against malaria, we need every available tool. If this pilot shows that RTS,S is a cost-effective tool against malaria, it will help us save more children’s lives,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund.

“The malaria vaccine is an exciting innovation that complements the global health community's efforts to end the malaria epidemic. It is also a shining example of the kind of inter-agency coordination that we need. We look forward to learning how the vaccine can be integrated for greatest impact into our work,” added Lelio Marmora, Executive Director of Unitaid.


Source: WHO

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
FEB 20, 2019
Health & Medicine
FEB 20, 2019
Rapid Idenditfication of Microorganisms in Positive Blood Cultures Using MALDI-TOF MS
Conventional methods of identifying a positive blood culture require waiting for the blood culture broth to grow the organism and once positive, it ha...
FEB 24, 2019
Microbiology
FEB 24, 2019
Common Antimicrobial Agent Reduces the Efficacy of Antibiotics
Triclosan is commonly added to many household products and even toys and credit cards so microbial growth will be reduced or prevented....
MAR 05, 2019
Microbiology
MAR 05, 2019
Common Fungus Might Exacerbate Bowel Disease in Some People
A common type of fungus, Malassezia yeasts, have been found in the gut, and may make disease worse for people with IBD....
MAR 26, 2019
Videos
MAR 26, 2019
Measles Outbreak Continues
Vaccine hesitancy is consider to be a major threat to public health, even though studies have shown that vaccines are not dangerous....
APR 09, 2019
Microbiology
APR 09, 2019
Exploring and Cataloging the Diverse Human Microbiome
Researchers want to identify and characterize the microbes hosted by the human body to understanding how they impact our health and well-being....
APR 03, 2019
Immunology
APR 03, 2019
A Novel Therapeutic Target for a Severe Bacterial Infection
Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pa) is an opportunistic human pathogen that can cause severe illness and even death in people that are hospitalized or have weakene...
Loading Comments...