World’s first malaria vaccine launched in Africa

New Delhi: The world’s first malaria vaccine has been rolled out in Malawi to protect 360,000 children under two in Malawi, Kenya and Ghana in Sub-Saharan Africa from the mosquito-borne disease that causes 435,000 people global deaths each year.
The RTS,S/AS01 (trade name Mosquirix) is an injectible recombinant protein-based vaccine acts against P. falciparum, the most prevalent malaria strain in Africa. The vaccine prevents four in 10 cases of malaria in children who received four doses over a four-year period, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO welcomed the pilot program by the government of Malawi.
Children under five years are at the greatest risk of death, with at least 250,000 children dying of the disease in Africa each year.
With India reducing malaria cases by 24% in 2017 over the previous year using conventional methods, such as to “test-treat-track” all cases and distributing free insecticide-treated bed nets in endemic areas, the vaccine is unlikely to be made part of India’s public health program, say experts.
In the sharpest global reduction in malaria in a year, cases India fell from 1,087,285 cases in 2016 to 844,558 in 2017, according to the World Malaria Report 2018.
The rest of the world, however, has not been performing as well. After a reduction in global malaria deaths by 62% and cases by 41% between 2000 and 2015, cases went up from 217 million in 2016 to 219 million in 2017, according to the World Malaria Report 2018.
With around 95% of the under-5 malaria deaths taking place in Africa, the benefits for a vaccine that protects children will be far greater there, say ministry officials.

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