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WHO Introduces World’s First Anti-Malaria Vaccine In Africa

The new vaccine is said to be effective for up to 30 percent with its dosage set at four doses. Its price has not been disclosed yet, but it is said to be quite expensive.

After several months of research, World Health Organization (WHO) scientists have introduced Mosquirix, the world’s first anti-malarial vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

The new vaccine is said to be effective for up to 30 percent with its dosage set at four doses. Its price has not been disclosed yet, but it is said to be quite expensive.

Nearly US$ 160 million support from 2022-2025 will facilitate increased vaccine access to children at high risk of illness and death from malaria, starting with Ghana, Kenya and Malawi. The three African countries that began pilot introduction of the vaccine in 2019, and then expanding to other eligible endemic countries.

Malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2020, nearly half a million African children died from malaria – or 1 child died of malaria every minute.

It is reported by WHO that since the world’s first malaria vaccine was introduced in 2019, it has been well accepted in the communities after a relatively short period of time.

“Demand is high even in the context of COVID-19: vaccination performance for the first dose is reaching between 73% to over 90% coverage, depending on the country, with no major disruptions during the pandemic. To date, about 1.3 million children have benefitted from the vaccine in the three African pilot countries,” a statement reads in part on WHO website.

“Gavi’s new funding opportunity brings us one step closer to reaching millions more children across Africa with the lifesaving RTS,S malaria vaccine,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

He adds, “Throughout the pandemic, when routine health services faced myriad challenges, parents and caregivers diligently brought their children to clinics and health posts to get the malaria vaccine. They know all too well that lives are being lost to malaria every day and are eager to protect their children from this deadly disease.”

Following WHO’s recommendation in October 2021 for widespread use of the malaria vaccine among children in regions with moderate to high Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission, a number of malaria-endemic countries have expressed interest in adopting the vaccine and are expected to apply for Gavi support to introduce the vaccine.

Gavi has indicated that the first application deadline in September 2022 is reserved for countries currently piloting the vaccine and for which continuity of the vaccine programme is a priority.

A second window open to other eligible malaria-endemic countries will close in January 2023. Countries can already submit expressions of interest during the first funding window for inclusion in this round.

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