As we all know, Malaria is one of the most leading killer diseases in the world. According to the World Health Organisation, nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of Malaria and it claims more than 435,000 lives globally every year. And in India, it is fewer than one million cases reported every year. There was no permanent medicine that doctors in the world can suggest for malaria.
The vaccine has been launched in Malawi, a landlocked country in southeast Africa after a long concerted effort over 30 years.
RTS, S/AS01, the world’s first and to date malaria vaccine also known as Mosquirix that has been shown to provide partial protection of malaria in young children. The vaccine can be used to prevent about four in ten malaria cases by acting against Plasmodium Falciparum, the most parasite globally and the most prevalent in the African continent. Malawi is the first country in Africa where RTS, S is to be made available to children up to two years of age. Ghana and Kenya will roll out in the MVIP with Malawi as per the WHO reports.
MVIP, Malaria Vaccine Implementation Program coordinated by WHO is designed to address several questions and public health use of RTS, S vaccine. The vaccine role is to cut down the death rate of children.WHO hopes that the vaccine can combat malaria which kills 250,000 children each year in Africa alone. That is the reason to start implementing this pilot program in the African region.
This pilot program conducted as the phase 3 trial of the vaccine in 7 sub- Saharan countries from 2009 to 2014. The children aged 5-17months have received 4 doses of RTS, S and found significantly lower the risk of developing malaria, that’s approximately 4 in 10 cases of malaria and 3 in 10 cases of severe malaria in the region. Also found a reduction in overall admissions in the hospitals due to malaria or severe anemia. The vaccine also reduced the need for blood transfusions, which are required to treat life-threatening malaria anemia by 29%.
“We have seen tremendous gains from bed nets and other measures to control malaria in the last 15 years, but progress has stalled and even reversed in some areas. We need new solutions to get the malaria response back on track, and this vaccine gives us a promising tool to get there”. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Known Side Effects
Pain and swelling at the injection site is a common reaction with other vaccines to the children. The same could be seen for RTS, S vaccine too. Sometimes, children with fever have seizures. During the phase 3 trial period, an increased risk of febrile seizures was seen in children who received 4 doses of RTS, S within 7 days. But, children who had febrile seizures after vaccination recovered completely and found no other long-lasting consequences.
MVIP is expected to continue through 2022. During this time, phase4 studies will be introduced. And it can provide data on the programmatic feasibility of delivering the vaccine worldwide. The pilot program aims to reach about 360,000 children each year and hopes that the deadly disease malaria can be evacuated completely from the earth face slowly.