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World Health Organization Has Approved A Vaccine For Malaria

The organization's director-general labeled the decision "a historic moment."

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved a childhood vaccine for malaria. 

WHO announced that they are “recommending widespread 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,” in a statement uploaded to their website on Oct. 6. 

Malaria is a deadly disease that is caused by parasites who transmit the disease through “infected female Anopheles mosquitoes,” who bite and infect people. The worst of its effects reportedly disproportionately impact children who have not had the opportunity to build up their immune systems. They reportedly account for 67 percent of all malaria death worldwide.

Symptoms of the disease include “severe anemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis or cerebral malaria.” There are reportedly at least five types of these parasites. 

According to the BBC “The vaccine targets the most deadly and common parasite in Africa: Plasmodium falciparum.” 

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WHO reports that the “African Region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden.”

Their research found that “94 percent of malaria cases and deaths” occurred there in 2019. 

“This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in the statement. “Using this vaccine on top of existing  tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.”

The vaccine “needs four doses to be effective.” 

The first three vaccine doses are supposed to be administered one month apart “at the age of five, six and seven months.” 

A booster shot is required to be administered “at around 18 months,” completing the vaccination process. 

WHO reported that the decision to issue the recommendation for the vaccine was made “based on results from an ongoing pilot program in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800,000 children since 2019.”