Malawi has launched the world’s first malaria vaccine. Two years ago, the African country reported 2,500 children dead from the disease.
Malawi has begun vaccinating children in a massive campaign against malaria, a world first. The RTS,S vaccine, which has been worked on for more than three decades. was developed by the pharmaceutical company GSK.
However, early tests show that just over 30% of children aged five to 17 months were protected. However, Malawian authorities believe the vaccine will play a key role in the fight against the disease, which killed about 2,500 infants in the country two years ago.
“There is no single intervention in malaria control”
“We are quite aware of its low effectiveness … (but) in malaria control there is no single intervention that does it all. We are not saying that the vaccine has ended up eliminating malaria, but it is a tool to eliminate malaria,” Michael Kayange, manager of Malawi’s national malaria control program, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa.
According to the World Health Organization, children under the age of five accounted for about 80% of all malaria deaths in Africa.
The malaria vaccine has gone through several rounds of testing
Kayange said the new immunization campaign will ensure coverage of all children under the age of five, even in the most remote parts of the country. In the first part, 11 of the country’s 28 districts will be covered, with 330,000 children expected to be vaccinated in this phase alone.
The vaccine, which has gone through rounds of testing in Malawi, Ghana and Kenya in recent years, must be given four times, once a month for three months and then a fourth dose 18 months later.