The World Health Organization announced on Wednesday that it has approved widespread use of a malaria vaccine for children, news reports say.
According to a report by The New York Times, the new vaccine, made by British drugmaker, GlaxoSmithKline, has been shown to help prevent malaria — among “the oldest known and deadliest of infectious diseases.” One estimate suggests it will save tens of thousands of children annually. The new vaccine, called Mosquirix, helps the immune system fight off a malaria pathogen common in Africa.
It not only is the first vaccine to prevent malaria, but the first to prevent a parasitic disease. WHO endorsed the vaccine for children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with malaria. The disease kills around half a million people each year, mostly in Africa. The majority of those deaths — 260,000 — are in children under age 5.
The vaccine was 50% effective at preventing severe malaria in clinical trials during the first year of testing. That efficacy dropped down to nearly zero after four years, but the immediate impacts of the vaccine on areas struggling with malaria cases made it worthwhile.
“I do expect we will see that impact,” said Dr. Mary Hamel, the lead of WHO’s malaria vaccine implementation program, according to The New York Times. To have a malaria vaccine that is safe, moderately effective and ready for distribution is “a historic event,” said Dr. Pedro Alonso, director of the W.H.O.’s global malaria program.
The Times cited Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the W.H.O. who said at a news conference on Wednesday, “We still have a very long road to travel, but this is a long stride down that road.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: ABC7 NY
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