NAIROBI: The world’s first malaria vaccine has been rolled out in Malawi to protect 360,000 children under two in Malawi, Kenya and Ghana in Sub-Saharan Africa from the mosquito-borne disease that causes 435,000 people global deaths each year.
The RTS,S/AS01 (trade name Mosquirix) is an injectible recombinant protein-based vaccine acts against P. falciparum, the most prevalent malaria strain in Africa. The vaccine prevents four in 10 cases of malaria in children who received four doses over a four-year period, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO welcomed the pilot programme by the government of Malawi.
Children under five years are at the greatest risk of death, with at least 250,000 children dying of the disease in Africa each year.
With India reducing malaria cases by 24% in 2017 over the previous year using conventional methods, such as to “test-treat-track” all cases and distributing free insecticide-treated bed nets in endemic areas, the vaccine is unlikely to be made part of India’s public health programme, say experts.