The World Health Organisation will launch a pilot programme to test the world’s first vaccine against malaria in the African countries of Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, AFP reported on Monday. Around 3,60,000 children in the region will be vaccinated between 2018 and 2020.
The RTS,S vaccine, also known as Mosquirix, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives as it helps the immune system attack the malaria parasite, said the World Health Organisation. However, the vaccine must be supplemented with the use of bed nets, insecticides, repellents and anti-malarial drugs, they added.
“The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news. Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa. “Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa. This vaccine is a weapon amongst others, it is one of the tools at our disposal.”
The vaccine got approval for the pilot project in 2015 after passing three clinical trials and a series of scientific testing.
Malaria killed 4,29,000 people worldwide in 2015, with 92 percent of victims in Africa. During the same period, India reported about 11 lakh cases and 384 deaths related to malaria, according to the country’s National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.