The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said that a new malaria vaccine will be tested on a large scale in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi in Africa. Reports state that under the project, at least 360,000 children are to be vaccinated between 2018 and 2020.
The vaccine known as RTS,S or Mosquirix, is injectable and can provide a limited protection against the disease which killed around 429,000 people across the world in 2015. At least 92 percent of the victims of malaria were in Africa and two thirds of them were children under the age of five.
Commenting on the upcoming project, WHO’s regional director of Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said, “The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news. Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine.”
The WHO said that the vaccine should be used along with other protective measures against mosquito bites like bed nets, insect repellents, insecticides and anti-malaria medicines.
“Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa,” Moeti said. “This vaccine is a weapon amongst others, it is one of the tools at our disposal,” she added.
Mosquirix was developed by the British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. Reports state that the large-scale test which will be tested in three countries will test the children aged between five and 17 months.
The drug reportedly was passed in previous scientific testing which also included a clinical trial between 2009 and 2014. The pilot programme was subsequently approve for implementation in 2015.
The researchers are conducting the testing to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine and also to determine the feasibility of the vaccine’s delivery to the populations which are most at risk.
The drug passed previous scientific testing — including a phase three clinical trial between 2009 and 2014 — and was approved for the pilot program in 2015.