It took nearly 30 years of research to put together the vaccine that will finally help children from the deadly disease that claims over 435,000 lives globally every year.
In what can be described as a landmark achievement in the global health industry, the world's first malaria vaccine has finally been launched in Malawi. It took nearly 30 years of research to put together the vaccine that will finally help children from the deadly disease that claims over 435,000 lives globally every year, reports Time.
This was confirmed by the World Health Organization, who lauded the Malawi government for their initiative to control malaria. Top officials from WHO also added that similar vaccination programs would be rolled out in the coming weeks in Kenya and Ghana, which will look to reach out to around 360,000 children per year across the three countries.
"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," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press statement. "The malaria vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of children's lives." As reported by CNN.
The vaccine called Mosquirix was created by top scientists at the British pharmaceutical giant GSK in 1987 and it has been successfully rolled out more than 3 decades later to help children from Africa as they are the most affected. According to Dr. Mary Hamel from WHO, for every two minutes, a child or baby dies of the disease in the continent. She also revealed a shocking statistic that some children could even have up to six bouts of malaria in just one year.
In clinical trials, this #malaria vaccine was found to prevent approximately 4 in 10 malaria cases, including 3 in 10 cases of life-threatening severe malaria. https://t.co/EWv4KXu1Vz pic.twitter.com/BfwR4CKwHh— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) April 23, 2019
"It's a difficult disease to deal with. The tools we have are modestly effective but drugs and insecticides wear out -- after 10, 20 years mosquitoes become resistant. There's a real concern that in the 2020s, [cases] are going to jump back up again," Adrian Hill, a professor of human genetics and director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford told CNN.
#Mali - #Douentza - “Our village is on a hill, so we had to get Soumaila down to the bottom before bringing him to the hospital in Douentza by cart ”, Ousmane Yalcoué, father of Soumaila, treated by @MSF for severe #malaria . https://t.co/X5v8UhqZIy . pic.twitter.com/DRI62W8f2g— MSF Western & Central Africa (@MSF_WestAfrica) April 23, 2019
Nearly thirty years in the making, Mosquirix is said to be the first and the only vaccine that has shown positive results in reducing malaria among children. Developed with a staggering amount of more than $500 million, the vaccine was a collaborative initiative from WHO, PATH, GlaxoSmithKline and a network of African countries. Even The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation played an integral part for the funding of the vaccine.
The vaccine will be given in four doses and it will be divided among three doses between five and nine months of age. This is followed by a fourth dose that is given around the 2nd birthday.
Community Health Workers in sub-Saharan Africa are vital for preventing and treating #malaria among children and pregnant women – two of the highest groups at risk of dying from the disease. #CHWsMatter #HealthWorkersCount #WorldMalariaDay pic.twitter.com/vIqr10FYTq— Amref Health Africa (@Amref_Worldwide) April 24, 2019
"Malaria is a constant threat in the African communities where this vaccine will be given. The poorest children suffer the most and are at highest risk of death," Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said, as reported by The Guardian. "We know the power of vaccines to prevent killer diseases and reach children, including those who may not have immediate access to the doctors, nurses and health facilities they need to save them when severe illness comes."
"This is a day to celebrate as we begin to learn more about what this tool can do to change the trajectory of malaria through childhood vaccination," she added.