A malaria vaccine that has been in development for a very long time will be made available in 12 African countries over the course of the next two years, which has the potential to save lives of over tens of thousands of people.
According to a statement released by the World Health Organization (WHO), Unicef, and the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiatives (Gavi), an initial supply of 18 million doses of the world’s first malaria vaccine has been distributed to the nations with the highest prevalence of malaria-related illness and death among children.
“This vaccine has potential to be majorly impactful in fight against malaria, as well as when broadly deployed alongside other major interventions, it can prevent over tens of thousands of deaths every year,” said Thabani Maphosa, who is the managing director of country programs delivery at Gavi.
Other access to the vaccine has been requested by sixteen other African nations, all of which will be keeping their fingers crossed for supplies once production has been ramped up.
After been administered to 1.7 million children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi since 2019, the vaccine, which goes by the name RTS,S/AS01, has been deemed “safe and effective” in reducing the number of fatalities and serious illnesses.
It will now be administered in the following countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, as well as Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone, & Uganda; doses are anticipated to arrive in the fourth quarter of this year.
Ephrem T. Lemango, associate director of immunization for Unicef, stated that the vaccine will help in the fight against a disease that claims the lives of approximately half a million children in Africa who are under the age of five every year.
“For a very long time, it has been possible to prevent and treat these deaths; nevertheless, the deployment of this vaccination will give children, particularly those living in Africa, an even better chance at surviving. Also, as supply increases, we hope even more children can benefit from this life-saving advancement,” he said.
GlaxoSmithKline is the business that is now producing the vaccine; however, because it is anticipated that 60 million doses will be required annually by the year 2026, the Indian company Bharat Biotech will soon also be involved in supply.
According to Dr. Kate O’Brien, who serves as the director of immunization, vaccines, and biologicals at the WHO, the vaccine represents a significant advancement for populations that are afflicted with malaria.
“The high demand for the vaccine and strong reach of childhood immunisation will also increase equity in access to malaria prevention as well as save many young lives. O’Brien has stated that “we will work tirelessly to increase supply until all children who are at risk have access.”
Another vaccine, known as R21, was created at Oxford University. It will be produced by an Indian business called the Serum Institute, and it is currently waiting for WHO pre-qualification.