/ 07 October 2021

Malaria vaccine hailed a major breakthrough

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

After 100 years of trying to crack a vaccine against malaria, children across Africa are set to be immunised. And when we say ‘malaria’, there are more than 100 types of parasite – this RTS,S vaccine targets the one that is the most deadly and most common in Africa. Trials of the vaccine developed by pharma giant GSK have been ongoing for several years, and there was a lot of scepticism that it would work. That’s because it is a 4-dose regimen delivered to babies from 5-months-old. But overnight, the World Health Organisation confirmed it is safe and led to a 30% reduction in severe malaria. There were 260,000 children who died from the disease in 2019, mainly in Africa, and the development is being hailed as one of medicine’s all-time great achievements that will save tens of thousands of lives each year.

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