WHO Approves Highly Effective Malaria Vaccine with 75% Efficacy

World Health Organization Approves Game-Changing Malaria Vaccine

The World Health Organization (WHO) has given its seal of approval to a novel and highly effective vaccine against malaria, marking a significant milestone in the fight against this deadly mosquito-borne disease.

Malaria’s Ongoing Global Threat

In 2021, malaria claimed the lives of nearly 619,000 people worldwide, with over 247 million reported cases globally.

Shockingly, 96 percent of these cases were concentrated in the WHO’s Africa region, where malaria remains endemic and affects more than 1 billion people.

Recommendation for the Oxford-Designed R21/Matrix-M Vaccine

The WHO is now endorsing the R21/Matrix-M vaccine, a cost-effective solution designed by Oxford University.

This achievement is historic as it is the first malaria vaccine to meet the WHO’s stringent efficacy standards, with an impressive 75 percent effectiveness.

Addressing Vaccine Supply Challenges

While the WHO’s recommendation is a crucial step towards eradicating malaria in at least 30 countries by 2030, vaccine supplies remain severely limited.

Approximately 18 million doses have been allocated for the next two years, despite soaring demand.

Protecting Vulnerable Populations

Malaria poses the greatest threat to children, pregnant women, and travelers who lack immunity to the disease-causing parasite.

In 2021, 80 percent of malaria cases in the Africa region occurred in children under five years old.

Effectiveness of the R21 Vaccine

Clinical trials of the R21 vaccine conducted in Burkina Faso, Mali, Kenya, and Tanzania, where malaria outbreaks are seasonal, demonstrated its ability to reduce symptomatic malaria cases by an impressive 75 percent over 12 months with a three-dose regimen.

Additionally, a booster shot after one year helps maintain protection.

Promising Long-Term Protection

Compared to the older RTS vaccine, the R21 vaccine offers a more extended period of protection, reducing the risk of severe illness and symptoms.

The older vaccine’s efficacy waned significantly over time, while the new R21 vaccine maintains a 66 percent effectiveness after a year.

Safety and Global Impact

The R21 vaccine has proven to be safe in clinical trials, paving the way for its widespread use.

With the ability to produce 100 million doses annually, this cost-effective solution, priced at $2 to $4 per shot, holds the potential to bridge the demand-and-supply gap and save countless lives in Africa.

Hope for a Malaria-Free Future

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, expressed optimism, stating, “Now we have two” effective vaccines against malaria.

While the fight against malaria remains challenging, these vaccines bring us one step closer to a future free from this deadly disease.

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