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WHO Supports Deployment of Malaria Vaccine for African Children Reuters

© Reuters. File photo: On February 2, 2020, the logo is drawn on the building of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. REUTERS / Denis Balibouse

Maggie Fick and Aaron Ross

Nairobi / Dakar (Reuters)-The World Health Organization (WHO) should widely give African children the only approved vaccine against malaria on Wednesday, making great strides against the disease, which kills hundreds of thousands of people each year. He said it could show.

WHO’s recommendations are for the vaccines RTS, S (or Mosquirix) developed by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (L :).

Since 2019, a large WHO-coordinated pilot program has given 2.3 million doses of Mosquirix to babies in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi. The majority of people who die of illness are under the age of five.

The program followed a 10-year clinical trial in seven African countries.

“This is a vaccine developed in Africa by African scientists and we are very proud of it,” said Tedros Adanom Gebreyes, WHO Director General. “This vaccine is a gift to the world, but its value will be most felt in Africa.”

Malaria is far more deadly than COVID-19 in Africa. WHO estimates that 386,000 Africans died in 2019, compared to 212,000 confirmed deaths on COVID-19 in the last 18 months.

According to the WHO, 94% of malaria cases and deaths occur in Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion people. Preventable diseases are caused by parasites that infect people by being bitten by infected mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, and malaise.

Mosquirix’s recommendations were jointly published in Geneva by WHO’s premier malaria and immunity advisory body, the Malaria Policy Advisory Group, and the Strategic Advisory Group of Immunization Experts.

The vaccine is only about 30% effective in preventing severe malaria in children, but it is the only vaccine approved. European Union drug regulators said the benefits outweigh the risks and approved it in 2015.

In late 2015, a panel of WHO experts called for pilot programs to be implemented in three to five African countries to inform future decisions regarding the widespread use of vaccines.

Almost six and two years after the pilot began, on Wednesday, a WHO committee approved other malaria prevention measures, such as bed nets and sprays, for children in African countries where malaria is endemic. It was recommended to deploy the vaccine along with the means.

In 2019, WHO said the fight against malaria was stalled. But on Wednesday, he said using the vaccine as an additional tool for illness could save tens of thousands of lives each year.

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WHO Supports Deployment of Malaria Vaccine for African Children Reuters WHO Supports Deployment of Malaria Vaccine for African Children Reuters

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