ADDIS ABABA – More than 1 million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have now received one or more doses of the world’s first malaria vaccine, says the UN health Agency on Thursday.
The malaria vaccine pilots, first launched by the Government of Malawi in April 2019, have shown that the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) vaccine is safe and feasible to deliver, says the World Health Organisation.
It also substantially reduces deadly severe malaria, the agency says.
These findings paved the way for the historic October 2021 WHO recommendation for the expanded use of RTS,S among children living in settings with moderate to high malaria transmission.
If widely deployed, WHO estimates that the vaccine could save the lives of an additional 40 000 to 80 000 African children each year.
RTS,S is a first-generation vaccine that could be complemented in the future by other vaccines with similar or higher efficacy.
“The successful completion of clinical trials for these vaccines will be important to assess their safety and efficacy profiles,” says WHO, welcoming the plan of BioNTech, manufacturer of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, to develop a malaria vaccine using mRNA technology.
More than US$ 155 million has been secured from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to support the introduction, procurement and delivery of the malaria vaccine for Gavi-eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa.