New hope for Africa as WHO green-lights first malaria vaccine

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New hope for Africa as WHO green-lights first malaria vaccine

The shot is the first to prove safe and effective in a large trial and could save hundreds of thousands of lives

James Paton and Joel Leon

The first vaccine for malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that kills 400,000 people each year, is set to be deployed more widely after more than three decades of work and about $1bn (about R15bn) in investment.

The vaccine, developed by GlaxoSmithKline and its partners, won a recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday for use in children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions with moderate to high transmission. It marks a turning point in a battle against the parasite that causes malaria. 

The shot prevented only about four in 10 malaria cases among children who received four doses in a large study, but the injection, along with other measures, could still save hundreds of thousands of lives. Now the focus will shift to getting it to more people after a pilot programme in Africa that began in 2019. ..

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