2.3 million doses of Mosquirix have been administered to children in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi in a large-scale pilot programme (AFP Photo) Malaria vaccine Mosquirix now available for children in Africa – WHO
Malaria killed 386,000 people in Africa in 2019 according to WHO.#Malaria Vaccine#Mosquirix#World Health Organization (WHO)
Journalist @New Vision
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the approved vaccine against malaria should be widely given to children in Africa. Malaria is a major disease in Africa.
However, funding for vaccine production and other logistical challenges still poses challenges.
The WHO recommendation is for Mosquirix (RTS,S), a vaccine developed by British drug maker/ pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L).
A large scale pilot programme for the vaccine was launched in 2019. Since then 2.3 million doses of Mosquirix have been administered to children in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi in a large-scale pilot programme coordinated by the WHO. The majority of those whom the disease kills are aged less than five years.
That programme followed 10 years of clinical trials in seven African countries.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the vaccine was developed in Africa by African scientists.
He said that using this vaccine in addition to existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year. Existing measures include anti-malaria measures like using mosquito bed nets and spraying.
Malaria killed 386,000 people in Africa in 2019 according to WHO. The WHO said 94% of global malaria cases and deaths occur in Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion people.
The preventable disease is caused by parasites transmitted to people by the bites of infected female anopheles mosquitoes. The symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting and fatigue.
The vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing severe cases of malaria in children is 30%, but it is the only approved vaccine. The European Union’s drugs regulator approved it in 2015, saying its benefits outweighed the risks.
Another vaccine against malaria, developed by scientists at Britain’s University of Oxford called R21/Matrix-M, showed up to 77% efficacy in a year-long study involving 450 children in Burkina Faso, researchers said in April, but it is still in the trial stages.
GSK has to date committed to produce 15 million doses of Mosquirix annually, in addition to the 10 million doses donated to the WHO pilot programmes, up to 2028 at a cost of production plus no more than 5% margin.
A global market study led by the WHO this year projected demand for a malaria vaccine would be 50 to 110 million doses per year by 2030 if it is deployed in areas with moderate to high transmission of the disease.
The GAVI vaccine alliance, a global public-private partnership, will consider in December whether and how to finance the vaccination programme.
Dr Kwame Amponsa-Achiano piloted the vaccine in Ghana to assess whether mass vaccination was feasible and effective. Constantly catching malaria as a child inspired Dr Amponsa-Achiano to become a doctor in Ghana.
There are more than 100 types of malaria parasite. The RTS,S vaccine targets the one that is most deadly and most common in Africa that is Plasmodium falciparum.
The vaccine trials reported in 2015, showed the vaccine could prevent around four in 10 cases of malaria, three in 10 severe cases and lead to the number of children needing blood transfusions falling by a third.