The World Health Organization recommends malaria vaccination for children in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas of the continent where malaria transmission rates are moderate to high.
The vaccine, known as Mosquirix, has proven effective in pilot programs in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that have reached more than 800,000 children since 2019.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lauded the new vaccine in Wednesday’s announcement, calling it the accomplishment of an “old but unattainable dream.”
He said, “We still have a long way to go, but it’s a long way down the road. This vaccine is a gift to the world, but its value will be felt most in Africa, because that’s where the malaria burden is greatest.”
The UN health agency said a large-scale pilot program showed that more than two-thirds of children who did not sleep with mosquito nets would benefit from the four-dose vaccine.
The program also found a 30 per cent reduction in fatal severe malaria cases, even in areas where insecticide-treated bed nets are widely used and there is good access to malaria diagnosis and treatment.
WHO says malaria is the main killer of children in sub-Saharan Africa, causing the deaths of more than 260,000 children under five every year.
The vaccine has been in development for 30 years by global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funding the final stage of development. [uh/ab]