World Malaria Day: WHO announces World’s first Malaria Vaccine Trial

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World Malaria Day: WHO announces World’s first Malaria Vaccine Trial

An announcement by the World Health Organization that the world’s first malaria vaccine will be made available in selected areas in three Africans countries has been made. The selected African countries are Ghana, Kenya and Malawi. 

The African Regional Office for the WHO said yesterday that the three African countries will take part in the experimental programme which will start in 2018.

WHO stated that the injectable vaccine, RTS, S, was developed to protect young children from the most deadly form of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa said that the prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news and that the information gathered in the experimental programme will help in making decisions on wider use of the vaccine.

Dr. Moeti went further to say that the combination of this vaccine with existing malaria interventions would help save so many lives in Africa. 

The aim of the programme is to determine if the vaccine’s protective effect in children aged 5-17 months old during Phase III testing can also be gotten in real life. 

The programme will expressly check the possibility of delivering the required four doses of RTS, S, the vaccine’s potential role in reducing childhood mortality rate, and also determine the safety of the vaccine when it is used regularly.

RTS, S, was developed by GSK and is the first malaria vaccine to have successfully completed a Phase III clinical trial. 

The trial was conducted between the year 2009 and 2014 through a partnership involving GSK, the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), and a network of African research sites in seven African countries – including Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi.

WHO explained that it chose the three countries to participate in the programme based on high coverage of long-lasting insecticidal treated nets; well-functioning malaria and immunization programmes, a high malaria burden even after scale-up of LLINS, and participation in the Phase III RTS, S malaria vaccine trial. 

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