By one estimate, it will save tens of thousands of children each year.
Malaria kills about half a million people each year, nearly all of them in sub-Saharan Africa — including 260,000 children under 5. The new vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, rouses a child’s immune system to thwart Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of five malaria pathogens and the most prevalent in Africa.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday endorsed the vaccine, the first step in a process that should lead to wide distribution in poor countries. To have a malaria vaccine that is safe, moderately effective and ready for distribution is a historic event, said Dr. Pedro Alonso, director of the W.H.O.’s global malaria program.
The vaccine, called Mosquirix, is not just a first for malaria — it is the first developed for any parasitic disease. Parasites are much more complex than viruses or bacteria, and the quest for a malaria vaccine has been underway for a hundred years.
Rory Horner » Senior Lecturer, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester
Rory Horner has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Regional Studies Association (RSA), the British Academy and the National Science Foundation to support his research on India’s pharmaceutical industry. He is also a senior research associate in the Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies at the University of Johannesburg.
The latest supply forecast for Covax – the programme for sharing COVID-19 vaccines around the world – suggests that accelerating vaccination in low-income countries looks unlikely. Covax estimates it will have distributed 1.425 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021, significantly less than the 2 billion doses it was aiming for earlier this year.
Only 280.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given out through Covax as of September 15 2021. With some high-income countries rolling out boosters and vaccinating children before many low-income countries have even given their adults a first dose, vaccine inequality is showing no sign of disappearing.
That Covax has fallen short on its initial forecast for 2021 is not a surprise. The CEO of the Serum Institute of India, originally the largest intended supplier to the initiative, cast doubt on the 2 billion figure soon after its release, suggesting that reaching this milestone would take an additional six months.