WHO recommends first malaria vaccine

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The World Health Organization on Oct. 6 recommended widespread use of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccine that can prevent malaria.

Six details:

  1. The WHO made its recommendation based on results from an ongoing pilot program in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800,000 children since 2019.

  2. The recommendation stipulates that the vaccine be used to prevent malaria in children who live in areas with moderate to high transmission as defined by the WHO.

  3. During the pilot program, the WHO found the vaccine was feasible to deliver, had a strong safety profile, increased equity in access to malaria prevention and was cost effective. The organization also found that the vaccine reduced deadly and severe malaria by 30 percent, even when used in regions where insecticide-treated nets are widely used and there is good access to diagnosis and treatment.

  4. The WHO is recommending the vaccine be administered in four doses in children who are 5 months and older.

  5. Malaria is the primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 260,000 children younger than 5 die from malaria each year in Africa, according to the WHO.

  6. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, called the organization's recommendation "a historic moment."

    "The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control," he said. "Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year."

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