Malaria: Kenya, Ghana and Malawi get first vaccine

The world’s first vaccine against malaria will be introduced in three countries – Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – starting in 2018.

The RTS,S vaccine trains the immune system to attack the malaria parasite, which is spread by mosquito bites.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the jab had the potential to save tens of thousands of lives.

But it is not yet clear if it will be feasible to use in the poorest parts of the world.

The vaccine needs to be given four times – once a month for three months and then a fourth dose 18 months later.

This has been achieved in tightly controlled and well-funded clinical trials, but it is not yet clear if it can be done in the “real-world” where access to health care is limited.

It is why the WHO is running pilots in three countries to see if a full malaria vaccine programme could be started. It will also continue to assess the safety and effectiveness of the vaccination.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said: “The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news.

“Information gathered in the pilot programme will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine.

“Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa.”

The pilot will involve more than 750,000 children aged between five and 17 months. Around half will get the vaccine in order to compare the jab’s real-world effectiveness.

 

BBC

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