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New Malaria Vaccine Set to Roll Out

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#1 LFC

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 05:09 PM

It's effectiveness is not nearly as high as many other vaccines but with the numbers involved it could still save a lot of lives.


Every year, malaria kills more than 400,000 people, most of them children. There’s been significant progress against the disease in the past few decades — death rates have fallen nearly in half — but there’s a long way to go. One child dies of malaria every two minutes.

Now, for the first time, we might have a vaccine.

The World Health Organization announced Tuesday that Malawi is rolling out a pilot program of the world’s first malaria vaccine. The vaccine, called RTS,S, will be available to everyone under the age of 2. After the rollout in Malawi, vaccination will begin in Ghana and Kenya later this year. In total, 360,000 children will get the vaccine annually.

In clinical trials, the vaccine prevented about 40 percent of cases of malaria — and only 30 percent of the most severe cases. That’s much, much lower than the success rate of vaccines for most other early childhood diseases — the measles vaccine, by comparison, is 97 percent effective, and the chickenpox vaccine prevents 85 percent of cases and nearly 100 percent of severe cases.

Nonetheless, this is a huge step forward. Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that causes a fever and chills, and in severe cases anemia, seizures, and respiratory problems. Even preventing 40 percent of cases saves many lives, and since part of the malaria parasite’s life cycle is inside a human host, disrupting some cases will benefit even the people who are not conferred immunity.

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