The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday the publication of a “historic” recommendation: The WHO has approved its use of a novel malaria vaccine — the first of its kind that can “save tens of thousands of lives each year,” according to an announcement in the press.
The malaria vaccine, technically referred to as RTS,S (Mosquirix)–is produced through GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) It aids in protecting children from Plasmodium falciparum the most dangerous malaria parasite worldwide and the most common among people in Africa. While the mosquito-borne illness only is affecting about 2,000 people annually in the US. It’s much more prevalent in the less developed countries. It claimed the lives of 409,000 people in the year 2019 alone mostly in sub-Saharan African countries. The WHO and children aged 5 are responsible for 274,000 deaths, which makes them the most vulnerable to the illness.
“For centuries, malaria has stalked sub-Saharan Africa, causing immense personal suffering,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa In the press release issued on Wednesday. “Today’s recommendation offers a glimmer of hope for the continent. Which shoulders the heaviest burden of the disease. We expect many African children to be protected from malaria and grow into healthy adults.
This “groundbreaking” news comes following an ongoing pilot program being conducted across Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi–more than 2.3 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed to children in the course of that vaccine’s integration into the routine schedule of vaccinations.
New malaria vaccine
It’s clear that this announcement is huge for health worldwide, not just as an original vaccine that fights an illness that has plagued the population for centuries, but also as a medical device that fights parasite-related diseases generally, which are more complicated than viruses and bacterial infections as per The New York Times. We’ll go more deeply into what this story actually will mean for health globally. We’ll also discuss what needs to be accomplished before the brand-new malaria vaccine. It is able to be incorporated into other arms.
What do we know about the new malaria vaccine?
As of right now, the WHO is recommending–through a global advisory body for immunization and another for malaria–that the malaria vaccine be given to children in “regions with moderate to high transmission as defined by WHO.” This could mean mainly sub-Saharan Africa which is the most common place where malaria-related deaths and cases occur however the WHO also points out regions like South-East Asia, Eastern Mediterranean, Western Pacific, and the Americas as being at-risk regions. The vaccine must be administered in four doses to babies beginning at the age of 5 months.
The WHO has made these recommendations basing their recommendations on the results of pilot programs running for the past two years across Ghana. When it comes to providing the vaccine to more than 800,000 children from those regions to date, the WHO claims that researchers have observed a reduction was 30%. This is a “significant reduction,” though not as effective as they would like in severe malaria. If combined with sleep under insecticide-treated bednets another preventive treatment for malaria, more than 90% of kids benefited from the protection.
Another plus: At the beginning, researchers were concerned that the launch of a vaccine could adversely affect the usage of preventive strategies like bednets, regular vaccines, and looking for a treatment to treat febrile illnesses (a fever that lasts for days which is a major indicator of malaria) however, this was proven that this was not the scenario. The WHO declares that the new vaccine did not have any influence on any of these aspects.
Phase 3 trial
Some studies provided a somewhat less hopeful image according to the results of a controlled phase 3 trial. It was also discovered to work better when given the addition of a booster dose. The most effective scenario for protection was when children received three doses in the time of 3 months.
What happens next with the malaria vaccine?
Although the WHO officially recognized the malaria vaccine to be used for children living in moderate areas. This is used in high-risk areas at the age of 5 months.
In the press release issued on Wednesday the next steps for the vaccine are “funding decisions from the global health community for broader roll-out and country decision-making on whether to adopt the vaccine as part of national malaria control strategies.”
Further research into this vaccine is required, as well. While this pilot program is in progress within all three African countries. The researchers will continue to investigate the way in which the four “booster” dose adds to the vaccine. It also how immunization affects child deaths due to the disease.
But, the news of Wednesday was an enormous leap forward for vaccine technology. Researchers have attempted (and unsuccessfully) numerous times before to come up with the perfect vaccine efficient against malaria, Thomas Russo, MD, director of the department of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo in New York informs health. “It’s a tough vaccine to make, and there have been numerous attempts that haven’t worked out,” Russo states. According to WHO this malaria vaccination is the result of more than 30 years of research and development.
Although the vaccine is likely to undergo further changes to make it more efficient, Dr. Russo describes it as”a “starting point”–it’s overall an improvement towards the positive direction. ” it is the first vaccine that at least shows significant activity against the disease.” Doctor. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. Who announced the news on Wednesday via a live newscast is feeling similarly. We still have a very long road to travel, but this is a long stride down that road.”