The World Health Organization (WHO) is hoping for a historic breakthrough in the fight against malaria with a new vaccine. This Wednesday in Geneva, an independent panel of experts is reviewing the promising results of pilot trials of the RTS, S vaccine in three settings.
If the experts are convinced of the efficacy and safety, the WHO would recommend widespread use. The WHO wanted to inform about this at 5.30 p.m. in Geneva.
Every year there are around 200 million malaria infections, mostly in Africa. Many people plug themselves in several times a year. 400,000 people die as a result each year, mainly children under the age of five. 94 percent of malaria deaths are recorded in African countries.
Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites that are transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. Infected people often get a fever and chills and suffer from a lot of muscle and joint pain and severe fatigue.
If the course is severe, there are also shortness of breath, cramps and bleeding, and most severely affected people die without medical treatment. The vaccine works against the deadliest of several malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum.
So far there has been no real protection
About 20 years ago, protection against mosquito bites in malaria areas was intensified, among other things by using mosquito nets for the night that were treated with insecticides. This reduced the number of infections. For a few years, however, they have stagnated. Since 2019, nun pilot tests have been running with the vaccine in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi. Hundreds of thousands of children were vaccinated up to four times before their second birthday. In April the WHO reported: “The protection that the RTS, S malaria vaccine provides, in addition to recommended anti-malarial measures, can save tens of thousands of lives a year.”
The vaccine is being developed by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. The company was supported by the malaria vaccine initiative of the non-profit organization PATH, which also receives money from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.