The World Got Its First Malaria Vaccine

A malaria epidemic has been ravaging populations for thousands of years. Perhaps its end is in sight. Malaria may soon be a thing of the past with an effective vaccine.

World health organization (WHO) approval has finally been granted for a novel drug called RTS, S, which will be made available across sub-Saharan Africa soon, reports BBC.

Source: Future Timeline

After six years of testing, the vaccine got approval after successful pilot immunization programs in Ghana, Kenya, and Malavi.

What WHO says?

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-general of WHO, considered it as the historic moment and a breakthrough for science, child health, and malaria control. He added," Vaccine could save tens of thousands of lives every year."

Lethal blood-sucking parasite

A mosquito bite transmits malaria, a parasite that attacks and destroys our blood cells. It spreads through mosquitoes that feed on our blood. Bednets and insecticides have both helped lower malaria rates by preventing bites and killing mosquitoes. In 2019, more than 2,60,000 African children died of the disease, making Africa the region bearing the heavy burden of the disease.

Malaria is a parasite that invades our body and destroys blood cells. It will reproduce and spread through blood-sucking mosquitoes. Insecticides, bed nets, and drugs to eradicate have all helped to reduce malaria. 

Africa registered the death of 260,000 children from the disease in 2019. Out of 229 million patients, 94% comes from the world's second most populated continent. Immunity takes years to build up, and even then, it only reduces the chances of becoming severely ill.

Dr. Kwane Amponsa Achiano became a Doctor after constantly catching malaria during his childhood. He conducted a pilot study in Ghana to analyze the feasibility and effectiveness of mass vaccination. In his opinion, malaria cases will significantly decrease after large-scale vaccinations.

It requires Four doses to immune

Researchers have identified More than 100 types of malaria parasites to date. Plasmodium falciparum is the most deadly and prevalent parasite in Africa. The RTS, S vaccine will target this parasite. Trials conducted in 2015 showed that vaccines can prevent 10 % of malaria cases, i.e., 4 out of 10. The number of children needing blood transfusion drops by one-third. People of Africa show less trust in the vaccine as it takes four doses to build immunity.

According to the report, the first three shots are given one month apart at five, six, and seven months old, with a booster shot at 18 months.

What expert says?

In an expert advisory group meeting at the WHO, two experts discussed the results of pilots.

Based on more than 2.3 million doses, the results showed:

1. There was no risk from the vaccine, with severe malaria cases declined.

2. More than two-thirds of children got vaccine who don't have bed-net to sleep.

3. No side effects other than that occur through routine vaccines.

4. The vaccine is cost-effective.

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