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October 4th, 2017 by admin

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WHO to test antimalarial vaccine in Africa

Mosquirix, which will be tested between 2018 and 2020 does not provide full protection against the plasmodium parasite, but it reduces the number of episodes of malaria.

Kenya, Ghana and Malawi are the three African countries chosen by the World Health Organization to test the antimalarial vaccine called Mosquirix, a UN special agency announced on Monday April 24th.

The WHO aims to vaccinate at least 360 000 children between 2018 and 2020.  Africa is by far the continent with the highest incidence of malaria, representing 92% of the 429 000 deaths from this mosquito-borne disease throughout the world in 2015, according to WHO figures.  Children under 5 make up two-thirds of these deaths.

Developed by a partnership between GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the NGO Path Malaria Vaccine Initiative, the vaccine, which is the most advanced against Malaria remains of limited effectiveness.  When combined with diagnostic methods, treatment and tried-and-tested preventive measures, such as mosquito nets treated with mosquito repellents, “the vaccine could save tens of thousands of lives in Africa” in the opinion of Matshidiso Moeti, WHO director for Africa.

Reduce episodes by 40%

In particular, the pilot project should allow them to evaluate the effectiveness of the vaccine “in a context of day-to-day use” as well as any possible logistical hurdles, according to Mrs Moeti.  It will be a question of raising the awareness of parents about a new program of vaccinations which differs from the traditional child vaccination program (DTP, measles etc.)  Four doses of the vaccine need to be administered when the child is aged 5 months, 6 months, 7 months and two years old.

Mosquirix, which was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in July 2015, does not completely prevent infection by the Plasmodium parasite which causes the disease.  It reduces the number of malaria episodes by 40% over a period of at least four and a half years, according to studies carried out on 15000 people between 2009 and 2014.

The program is part of the efforts introduced since the 1990s to eradicate malaria. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of deaths from this disease fell by 62%.  The WHO hopes to have eliminated the disease by 2040.