The WHO mentioned that from 2000 to 2015, there was a 62% reduction in malaria deaths. Sadly, recent data shows Malaria is making a comeback, as there were 219 million cases in 2017, as compared to the 217 million in 2016.
The World Health Organization on Tuesday announced nearly 360,000 children from three African countries will receive the world's first malaria vaccine a year, as part of a large-scale pilot project. The WHO also added that Malawi has already started vaccinating children under the age of two years. Kenya and Ghana will also begin using the vaccine in the following weeks. Health ministries in these countries will decide where it will be used. WHO also added the vaccine offers partial protection from the disease and clinical trials have found that the vaccine actually prevented four in 10 malaria cases, according to CNN.
"We have seen tremendous gains from bed nets and other measures to control malaria in the last 15 years, but progress has stalled and even reversed in some areas. We need new solutions to get the malaria response back on track, and this vaccine gives us a promising tool to get there," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press statement. "The malaria vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of children's lives."
Malaria is a parasitic disease that spreads through the bite of female Anopheles mosquitoes. Even though it is both preventable and treatable, but still, an estimated 435,000 people die of it each year. The WHO also added that children under the age of five are at the most risk of complications from Malaria. It also claims the life of one child every two minutes, and it is in Africa where most of these deaths happen, and more than 250,000 children die from the disease every year.
Scientists at the British pharma giant GSK created the vaccine 'RTS,S' which is also known as 'mosquirix'. The vaccine has undergone years of texting and it was also supported by numerous organizations. It includes PATH, which is a non-profit organization! The WHO also mentioned that from 2000 to 2015, there was a 62% reduction in malaria deaths. Sadly, recent data shows Malaria is making a comeback, as there were 219 million cases in 2017, as compared to the 217 million in 2016.
"It's a difficult disease to deal with. The tools we have are modestly effective but drugs and insecticides wear out -- after 10, 20 years mosquitoes become resistant. There's a real concern that in the 2020s, [cases] are going to jump back up again," said Adrian Hill, a professor of human genetics and director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford. The vaccine will be given to the children in four doses. Three doses will be given between five and nine months of age and the fourth dose provided around the child's 2nd birthday.
The vaccine was complementary malaria control tool, according to WHO. It can be used in addition to bed nets treated with insecticide, spraying indoor areas with insecticides as well as prompt diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Alena Pance, the senior staff scientist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said the vaccine was not "overwhelmingly effective."
"But it is very important to bear in mind that 40% protection in the most endemic part of the world, Africa, is better than no protection at all. Ultimately, this is the only vaccine that has some efficacy that we currently have and has taken decades to develop, this is in itself good news," said Pance.
Hill also mentioned that there had been "stops and starts" about whether it was worth going forward with the vaccine, but then decided that it would be a useful addition in the fight against the disease. He also said that it would be particularly important to make sure that children received all four doses of the vaccine to maximize its efficacy. If this can prevent disease, then why not use it to its utmost efficiency!
In the comments section, some people who seemed to belong to Africa disagreed with the numbers. Okereke Chinaka said: We no longer have malaria issues in Africa, let them leave us alone, let them take it to America and vaccinate them, the pink people need it the most. It's a small step to take, and it can save several lives. Worth a shot, isn't it? Like Subrata Mo said: Small step towards Mankind Become Giant Success of tomorrow.