Over One Million African Children Protected by First Malaria Vaccine – WHO

NEWS DIGEST – As World Malaria Day approaches, more than 1 million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have received one or more doses of the world’s first malaria vaccine, WHO says on its official website on Thursday.

The malaria vaccine pilots, first launched by the Government of Malawi in April 2019, have shown that the RTS, S/AS01 (RTS, S) vaccine is safe and feasible to deliver and that it substantially reduces deadly severe malaria.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said as a malaria researcher in his early career, he dreamed of a day scientists would have an effective vaccine against malaria the devastating disease.

“This vaccine is not just a scientific breakthrough, it’s life-changing for families across Africa”, the WHO director said adding that “there is an urgent need to develop more and better tools to save lives and drive progress towards a malaria-free world.”

WHO stated that RTS, S malaria vaccine is a first-generation vaccine that could be complemented in the future by other vaccines with similar or higher efficacy.

In addition, WHO also welcomes progress in the development of R21/Matrix-M and other malaria vaccine candidates in early clinical development.

The successful completion of clinical trials for these vaccines will be important to assess their safety and efficacy profiles, WHO said.

WHO also reported that, in the field of vector control, several new tools and technologies have been submitted to the organization for evaluation which demonstrates efficacy in controlling the disease.

Malaria cases and Death reported by the disease declined progressively in recent years according to the 2021 World Malaria Report, particularly in countries hardest hit by the disease as the report shows a need for continuous innovation in research and development of new tools if the world is to achieve the 2030 targets of the WHO malaria strategy.

WHO is working with partners to increase supply through increased manufacturing capacity of RTS, S, and by facilitating the development of other first-generation and next-generation malaria vaccines.