The world’s first ever malaria vaccine will be launched in three African countries next year, Ghana, Malawi, and Kenya. The vaccine trains the immune system to attack the malaria parasites after one has been bitten by an infected mosquito.
According to the World Health Organization, the numbers of malaria incidents have significantly lowered in the past decade, hundreds of thousands of fatal incidents still occur across the world. Although it can be treated in countries with inadequate health care, malaria is considered a major cause of death. The new RTS-S vaccine should reduce unnecessary fatalities due to malaria but its feasibility in the poorest parts of the world are a concern.
To be immune to malaria, you are required to take the vaccine 4 times. The first three shots will be given during the course of 3 months. The final shot will have to be taken after a gap of 18 months.
The vaccine is a big step for health care however its usability in the real world is questionable since the funds are so limited in countries where the vaccine is most needed.
The WHO has decided to run a trial on the vaccine to see if the vaccine is in fact viable. The vaccine will be introduced to Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi next year. During the trial period, it will also examine effectiveness along with the safety of the vaccine. The information received by the trial will aid the WHO in making decisions about the wider use of the vaccine.
The pilot consists of 750,000 kids between the age of 5 and 17 months. Around half the children will get the vaccine in order to test its effectiveness. In the previous testing, the vaccine was able to prevent 4 in 10 cases of malaria which is much lower than vaccine for other conditions. The vaccine does lessen the most serious cases of malaria by a third and reduces the needs for hospital treatment and blood transfusions, however, its effectiveness reduces significantly if the fourth dose is not given.
Ghana, Malawi, and Kenya were chosen for the pilot study as they already have programs that are currently attempting to control the spread of malaria.
Even though the cases of malaria have dropped in the last decade, there are still around 212 million new cases every year out of which 429,000 result in fatalities.