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New malaria vaccine pilots in Africa

The World Health Organisation has announced live trials of Mosquirix in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

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New malaria vaccine pilots in Africa

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Malaria claims around 430,000 victims each year: most of them babies and young children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This year on World Malaria Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched its End Malaria for Good campaign with an announcement that a new vaccine against the disease will be piloted next year in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

What is malaria?

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease, which is both preventable and curable. However, if it is not recognised in the first few hours, it can progress to being a severe and possibly fatal illness.

According to the WHO, about 91 countries in the world have ongoing malaria transmission.

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What is the new vaccine?

The new vaccine, called RTS,S, or Mosquirix, is delivered by injection in four separate doses. It has been developed by British pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline.

Will it work?

So far, Mosquirix has been tested in clinical trials, where it was effective in four out of every ten cases. The African pilots will determine whether or not that success rate can be sustained in real-life conditions.

The vaccine has to be given on a four-dose schedule, which could complicate delivery, particularly in areas where people have only sporadic access to healthcare.

It is, however, the first regulator-approved vaccine against the disease and, if it works, could save tens of thousands of lives.