The malaria vaccine can now be administered to those who need it most. The World Health Organization (WHO), based on the results of an ongoing pilot program that has vaccinated more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi since 2019, recommends the widespread administration of the antimalarial (malaria) vaccine to children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions where malaria transmission is moderate or high. This vaccine has already been developed by GSK, which is preparing to ensure equitable access to the entire population to be inoculated.
GSK has expressed its satisfaction with the WHO recommendation and has stated that it has “the first and only malaria vaccine that has been shown in long-term pivotal clinical trials to significantly reduce malaria in children”.
Thomas Breuer, head of Global Health at GSK said: “The vaccine, together with other malaria prevention measures, has the potential to save lives.”
“GSK is proud that our innovative malaria vaccine, developed over decades by our teams and partners, can now be made available to children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with moderate to high malaria transmission. This long-awaited landmark decision may revitalize the fight against malaria in the region at a time when progress in malaria control has stalled. Both real-world evidence and clinical trial data show that the vaccine, together with other malaria prevention measures, has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives,” explained Thomas Breuer, Head of Global Health at GSK.
In anticipation of wider deployment, GSK is working to ensure equitable, long-term access to the vaccine for people in need. In fact, the company has committed to donate up to 10 million doses for use in pilot trials and to supply up to 15 million doses per year, following a recommendation and funding for wider use. A product transfer, including technology transfer for long-term antigen production, is also underway with Bharat Biotech of India. GSK will now work closely with partners, funders and governments to support additional vaccine supply, and is committed to making the 15 million annual doses available at no more than 5 percent above the cost of production.
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Four doses to children aged 5 months and older
“We are at a historic moment. The long-awaited childhood antimalarial vaccine represents a great leap forward for science, children’s health and the fight against this disease. By adding it to the tools already available to prevent malaria, we can save the lives of tens of thousands of children every year,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Malaria remains the leading cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa, claiming the lives of more than 260,000 African children under the age of five each year. In recent years, WHO and its partners have been reporting that there has been a stalemate in the fight against this deadly disease. According to WHO, this vaccine should be administered in a four-dose schedule to children from five months of age to reduce the disease and the burden of malaria mortality and morbidity.
In this regard, Matshidiso Moeti, Director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa, said, “For decades, malaria has plagued sub-Saharan Africa, causing enormous suffering to people.” “We have long been waiting for an effective antimalarial vaccine and, for the first time, a vaccine is being recommended for widespread use. Today’s recommendation brings a ray of hope to the continent most affected by the disease, and we hope to protect many more children from malaria, who will be able to grow up healthy into adulthood,” he added.
The next steps for the WHO-recommended malaria vaccine are for the global health care sector to make decisions to fund its wider introduction and for country decision-makers to include it in national malaria control strategies.
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First published in redaccionmedica, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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