GENEVA: In a major breakthrough, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has endorsed the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine, the first against the mosquito-borne disease.
The vaccine was first made by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in 1987. The decision followed a review of a pilot programme deployed since 2019 in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, where more than two million doses were given of the vaccine.
After reviewing evidence from these countries, the WHO recommended “the broad use of the world’s first malaria vaccine,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The WHO said it was recommending the widespread application of the vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high malaria transmission.
This is the first time that the WHO has recommended the broad use of a vaccine against a human parasite. “From a scientific perspective, this is a massive breakthrough,” said Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme.
The vaccine acts against plasmodium falciparum — one of five and most deadly parasite species. However, before the newly recommended vaccine can reach African children, the next step will be funding.
According to the WHO, a child dies of malaria every two minutes. Around 60% of Pakistan’s population is living in regions which are malaria-endemic and the massive breakthrough will prevent many from this disease which kills 400,000 people every year.