World Malaria Day was celebrated on the 25th of April, 2022 and we have come to the realization that a lot of work remains to be done when it comes to the eradication of Malaria, especially in the African continent.
Did you know that Nigeria is one of four African countries that accounted for over half of all malaria deaths worldwide? Out of those 4 countries, Nigeria had the highest malaria burden, in 2020. Over half a million deaths yearly are attributed to Malaria, out of which at least 260,000 are children under 5.
So, we see that while progress has been made in combating Malaria, a lot more needs to be done in awareness and treatment of Malaria, to protect young children.
A new vaccine
There is a new vaccine for the prevention of malaria, the Mosquirix vaccine. It has been approved by the WHO who also said it can be implemented widely in October 2021 after a series of tests and adequate research. It will mainly be used in children in the Sub Saharan region of Africa where malaria is endemic.
The vaccine, RTS, S/AS01, also known as Mosquirix was developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as well as the PATH MVI ( Malaria Vaccine Initiative) supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is worthy to note that the Mosquirix vaccine is effective for the Plasmodium Falciparum strain of malaria which is the most common in Africa. Mosquirix is a product of over 30 years of research and several challenges at the various stages of vaccine development.
How does it work?
Mosquirix works by sensitizing the immune system to P. Falciparum and prevents Malaria infection by the production of antibodies that prevent the parasite from infecting the liver. The active ingredient in the vaccine is composed of proteins that are found on the surface of the parasites. Another ingredient is sourced from the Quillay tree which is a rare tree found natively in Chile.
How is it administered?
Four doses of the vaccine are required; three doses, one month apart, between 5 months and 17 months of age, and the last dose 18 months after. It is administered as an intramuscular injection in the thigh or the shoulder. The vaccine is said to have caused a 30% reduction in severe malaria so far and is expected to have a significant reduction in the overall malaria burden in the coming years. The vaccine is expected to be used in conjunction with other malaria prevention methods such as the use of Insecticide Treated Nets, preventive drugs, Vector Control, as well as the use of Insecticide indoor sprays.
So far, so good,
So far so good, the vaccine has been approved for use, and the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme which was designed by the WHO and supported by various partners has been put in place to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine. Funding support is currently being sought to help produce and distribute more of the vaccine. Other vaccines are also being developed and we expect to hear more about these other vaccines in the upcoming years.
I’m waiting to hear from you- your comments, questions and other feedback will be much appreciated!
Yours in Health,
Dr Omotola Oke.