World's First Malaria Vaccine: Trial in three African nations
The first-ever vaccine against malaria will be trialled across three African nations next year.
It is hoped that the vaccine could help save tens of thousands of lives by preventing children from contracting the disease, which still kills an estimated 429,000 people every year.
Global efforts in the last 15 years cut the malaria death toll by 62 percent between 2000 and 2015.
Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa.
RTS,S or Mosquirix
The injectable vaccine, called RTS,S or Mosquirix, was developed by British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline to protect children from the deadliest form of malaria in Africa.
The first countries to get the RTS,S vaccine will be Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, and will involve over 750,000 children aged between five and 17 months old.
While the vaccine has achieved some success in tightly controlled laboratory experiments, researchers are unsure whether this will translate into effective control in the real world, which is why they are only running the pilot in three countries to begin with.
If the vaccine is administered, and the full treatment completed, it has been found to prevent up to four in 10 cases of the disease.
Why Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi?
The WHO said, Malawi, Kenya and Ghana were chosen for the pilot due to several factors, including having high rates of malaria as well as good malaria programmes, wide use of bed-nets, and well-functioning immunisation programmes.
Each country will decide for itself which region will be used in the pilot schemes, but it is expected that they will prioritize those that currently have the highest rates of malaria.
It is hoped the information gathered from the pilot will inform later decisions about whether or not it is feasible to roll the vaccine out on a larger scale to more countries ravaged by the disease.