Kuala Lumpur, 24 April 2019 – Children in Malawi are being vaccinated with the world’s first vaccine providing partial protection against malaria. A large-scale pilot involving three countries, including Ghana and Kenya, aims to immunise 120,000 children below the age of two.
Earlier trials of the RTS,S vaccine found that nearly 40 percent of the 5-17 month old children who received it were protected against the mosquito-borne parasite that causes malaria.
The vaccine helps the body’s immune system to defend against the parasite, providing a measure of protective immunity.
When interviewed by the BBC, Dr Kate O’Brien, Director of Immunisation and Vaccines at the World Health Organization, said that the vaccine lasted for at least seven years and would need to be given four times: once a month for three months and a final dose 18 months later.
This initiative began in 1987 by pharmaceutical company GSK and underwent decades of testing by various international bodies such as the Path Malaria Vaccine Initiative.
Its development, which cost an estimated $1 billion, has been hailed as a significant achievement as malaria has been considered especially challenging for the development of a vaccine.