The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday first announced: It was recommending a vaccine against malaria for administration to children. The decision follows a program launched in 2019 in three African countries that eventually vaccinated more than 800,000 children.
NS the vaccine itself It’s called RTS, S/AS01, or Mosquirix, and it checks all the boxes for conspiracy theorists, developed by a large pharmaceutical company (GlaxoSmithKline) with the support of the Gates Foundation. The vaccine is based on a protein found on the surface of the most common malaria parasite, and requires four doses when children are less than a year old. Vaccine development began in 1987, and trials of its efficacy began in 2014. With over 2.3 million doses, it has a solid safety profile, and has shown efficacy between 30 and 50 percent in various trials.
All of this may not sound great, especially compared to the numbers we have all seen producing multiple COVID-19 vaccines. But the WHO estimates that every year in Africa alone, more than 1.25 million children under the age of 5 die from malaria, while many others become seriously ill. As such, even 30 percent efficacy may have a substantial effect.
The WHO analysis also considered several additional factors, all of which favored its use. These include its cost-effectiveness and ability to deliver the vaccine to hard-to-reach populations.
However, the widespread distribution of Mosquirix will now depend on the international health community, which is already struggling to find funding and resources to ensure that developing countries receive adequate COVID-19 vaccines.
Meanwhile, there have been some very early trials of additional vaccines that are reporting high efficacy levels. If those results persist in major trials and in actual use in Africa, the RTS,S could be the first in a series of good news for one of humanity’s deadliest plagues.