At the beginning of October 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the broader use of RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission. This recommendation comes after the implementation of a pilot phased introduction of the vaccine that started in 2019 and was implemented in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.
The RTS,S vaccine is the first malaria vaccine that has completed the clinical development process and received a positive scientific opinion from a stringent regulatory authority including ministries of health. This is a great stride in the fight against malaria, as malaria is still a primary cause of childhood illness and death in Sub-Saharan African accounting for more than 260,000 death of children under five.
As of October 2021, more than 2.3 million doses of the vaccine had been administered in the 3 African countries. Based on evaluation of the phased pilot implementation, the malaria vaccine has an acceptable safety profile and significantly reduces severe, life-threatening malaria. The vaccine can also be delivered successfully in routine childhood vaccination clinics including in pandemic situation such as the COVID-19 era. Six CIN hospitals are acting as sentinel hospitals and provided data on safety and impact on severe malaria admissions.
WHO recommends that the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine should be provided in a schedule of 4 doses in children from 6 months of age and the fourth and final dose at around 2 years of age. In the coming months the global advisory bodies for immunization and malaria will convene to discuss mechanisms for getting enough vaccines available for countries planning to implement broader use of the vaccine. Sentinel evaluation will continue until mid-2023 to assess if only 3 doses (rather than 4) of the vaccine are sufficient.
Read more about the role CIN played towards this achievement in the October 2021 CIN bulletin edition – https://spark.adobe.com/page/TAfRYnkFJYqzk/