The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Malawi in southeastern Africa will be the first country to begin immunising children against malaria using the only licensed vaccine, Mosquirix.
Soon Kenya and Ghana will also start the same programme, with the aim of reaching about 360,000 children every year in the three countries. The immunisation rollout is a massive success for the research community because Mosquirix could save the lives of tens of thousands of children each year.
According to the 2018 World Malaria report, the disease kills about 435,000 people every year. It is still a top killer of children worldwide, but the children in Africa are most affected. “Every two minutes a child or baby there dies of the disease. Some children can have up to six bouts of malaria in just one year,” Dr Mary Hamel of WHO.
Although launch of the vaccine is a great thing, many have questioned its effectiveness because a previous trial showed Mosquirix protects only about one-third of immunised children. In others, even if infected, the severity is less for those who have had the vaccine. However, the world cannot wait for a perfect option because the next generation of the vaccine may take years to develop: It took more than 30 years — and more than $500 million — for an international consortium to develop Mosquirix.
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