Malaria: Kenya, Ghana and Malawi get first vaccine

  • Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – starting in 2018.
  • The RTS,S vaccine trains the immune system to attack the malaria parasite, which is spread by mosquito bites.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) said the jab had the potential to save tens of thousands of lives.
  • But it is not yet clear if it will be feasible to use in the poorest parts of the world.
  • The vaccine needs to be given four times – once a month for three months and then a fourth dose 18 months later.
  • This has been achieved in tightly controlled and well-funded clinical trials, but it is not yet clear if it can be done in the “real-world” where access to health care is limited.
  • It is why the WHO is running pilots in three countries to see if a full malaria vaccine programme could be started. It will also continue to assess the safety and effectiveness of the vaccination.
  • Ghana, Kenya and Malawi were chosen because they already run large programmes to tackle malaria, including the use of bed nets, yet still have high numbers of cases.
  • Each country will decide how to run the vaccination pilots, but high-risk areas are likely to be prioritised.
  • Africa is the hardest hit and most of the deaths are in children.
  • The pilots are being funded by: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Unitaid, the WHO and GSK.


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