World’s First Malaria Vaccine in News

Having secured the funds for the initial phase of the deployment of the world’s first malaria vaccine, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that this vaccine will be rolled out in sub-Saharan Africa and immunization campaigns will begin in 2018.

The vaccine, known as RTS,S, acts globally against the most deadly malaria parasite P. falciparum, very common in Africa.

Based on the results from clinical trials, the new vaccine will provide partial protection against malaria in young children.

The vaccine was developed through a partnership between GlaxoSmithKline and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and from a network of African research centres.

Full funding – $15 million for the malaria vaccine pilots – for the first phase of the programme, has already been received, and an additional commitment of about $37 million from partners is expected to cover the first four years.

According to WHO, the pilot programme will evaluate the feasibility of delivering the required four doses of RTS,S; the impact of RTS,S on lives saved; and the safety of the vaccine in the context of routine use. In addition, it will assess the protective effect of the vaccine on children aged five to 17 months old.

WHO also stressed that because the new vaccine alone is not an absolute malaria prevention tool, it should complement the existing package of the existing malaria prevention measures and tools, including long-lasting insecticidal bed-nets, spraying inside walls of dwellings with insecticides, preventive treatment for infants and during pregnancy, prompt diagnostic testing, and treatment of confirmed cases with effective anti-malarial medicines.