Vaccines advance the fight against malaria


By Dave Reynolds at

A new malaria vaccine is saving lives in Africa, as countries and international partners work to expand its use.

Spread by mosquitoes, malaria infects more than 200 million people annually and kills hundreds of thousands each year, mostly children under age 5. While preventive measures such as insecticide-treated bed nets have reduced malaria’s toll, vaccines are now having an added impact.

The malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S), also called Mosquirix, was developed by pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline, which is based in the United Kingdom, with support from U.S. researchers and others.

“RTS,S, is saving lives,” World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said January 30. “In Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, where over 1.2 million children have now received the vaccine, we see a substantial decrease in hospitalizations for severe malaria, and a more than 10% drop in child deaths,” Ghebreyesus added.

More than 4.5 million safe and effective doses of RTS,S have already been provided through a pilot program in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi. At least 28 more African nations are rolling out the vaccine this year, after the WHO recommended RTS,S for widespread use in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas with high malaria transmission in October 2021.

Long-elusive progress on a malaria vaccine comes as the WHO marks World Malaria Day 2023 this April 25 with the theme “Time to deliver zero malaria: invest, innovate, implement.”

World Immunization Week, April 24–30, honors international partners’ efforts to protect people worldwide from preventable diseases. According to the WHO, high demand for RTS,S in Africa may draw families to clinics, where more children can be immunized against other diseases and receive basic care.


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