The first vaccine approved to fight malaria is proven to be effective, reducing deaths among young children by 13% in countries greatly affected by the disease, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The RTS,S malaria vaccine is already saving lives,” states John Tanko Bawa, director of malaria vaccine implementation at PATH, a nonprofit that develops vaccines and therapies for global health problems. “What we have seen is a considerable impact of a vaccine described as having modest efficacy.”
Developed by British multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company GlaxoSmithKline, the RTS,S vaccine – also called Mosquirix – has shown a 22% reduction in severe malaria in children young enough to receive the three-shot series. The World Health Organization (WHO) approved the vaccine in 2021, and 17 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have already won approval to receive doses due to roll out next year. A second malaria vaccine, R-21, won WHO authorization in October. It will likely be cheaper and available in greater quantities than RTS,S. The $70 million pilot – along with its critical data – “have forged a pathway for future malaria vaccines,” explains medical epidemiologist Mary Hamel, who led the WHO pilot program.