First Antimalarial Vaccine

In a historic move, the World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed the first antimalarial vaccine, as mankind enters a key turning point in a battle waged relentlessly over decades between man and mosquito, the vector.

 

Important Highlights 

  • At a press conference that went live on social media, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control... Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.”
  • The WHO said that it was recommending the use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission.

 

Malaria

  • Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable.
  • Children aged under 5 years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria; in 2019, they accounted for 67% (274 000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.
  • Malaria is an acute febrile illness. In a non-immune individual, symptoms usually appear 10–15 days after the infective mosquito bite. The first symptoms – fever, headache, and chills – may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria. If not treated within 24 hours, falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness, often leading to death.
  • In most cases, malaria is transmitted through the bites of female Anopheles There are more than 400 different species of Anopheles mosquito; around 30 are malaria vectors of major importance. All of the important vector species bite between dusk and dawn. The intensity of transmission depends on factors related to the parasite, the vector, the human host, and the environment.