Malaria Vaccine: Newly Discovered Drug to be Tested First in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi

The malaria vaccine is expected to fight the most deadly species of the malaria parasite prevalent in Africa and beyond…

Africa and the world at large may say a final goodbye to the life-threatening disease Malaria, as World Health Organisation (WHO) announces the world’s first malaria vaccine -a drug that will provide immunity against the disease. Named “RTS,S vaccine” this vaccine trains the immune system to attack the malaria parasite, which is spread by mosquito bites.

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The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) announced on April 24, 2017, that Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi will partner with the parent body in the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP). The program which is the first “real world” trial, is aimed at making the RTS,S vaccine available in selected areas of the three countries next year.

Studies have shown that more than 429,000 people lost their lives to the mosquito-borne illness in 2015, and hundreds of millions get sick with a malaria infection every year. But Africa who sees the highest number of malaria cases is known as the only continent that has mostly been on the receiving end of the parasitic disease.

According to WHO, 43% of people at risk for Malaria in Africa, don’t have access to mosquito protection like bed nets or bug spray. However, after so many years of child mortality caused by the prevalence of the disease, Africa has seen a light at the end of the tunnel following WHO’s discovery of a vaccine to fight and prevent it.

Introducing the vaccine, WHO on Monday, announced that three African countries have been chosen to test the world’s first malaria vaccine. The countries; Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi are locations where WHO will begin piloting the injectable vaccine next year with hundreds of thousands of young children. The announcement was made ahead of the U.N.’s World Malaria Day -Tuesday, April 25.

About the Malaria Vaccine

The vaccine, RTS,S, also known as Mosquirix, was created by scientists at GSK in 1987. It is said to be the only vaccine to show a protective effect against malaria among young children in Phase 3 clinical trials. RTS, S like other vaccines aims to trigger the body’s immune system to defend against disease.

This means that the malaria vaccine RTS,S has been made to fight “Plasmodium falciparum”the most deadly specie of the malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa.

The vaccine, which has partial effectiveness, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives if used with existing measures, the WHO regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement.

The Pilot Programme

Trials of the new malaria vaccine are meant to assess whether the vaccine’s protective effect in children aged 5–17 months old during Phase III testing can be replicated in real life.

According to WHO, the three countries were chosen for the vaccine pilot because all of them have strong prevention and vaccination programs but continue to have high numbers of malaria cases.

The pilot project will test whether the vaccine can work under real-world circumstances. It has to be delivered in four doses and given through an intramuscular injection. The program will also test the feasibility of delivering the required four doses of RTS,S, as well as role in reducing childhood deaths.