Explained: What is Mosquirix, the first malaria vaccine to get the WHO’s backing?

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What is the news? 

The new vaccine “RTS,S/ASO1 (RTS.S)” with its trade name “Mosquirixwas endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently. This is the first and only vaccine shown to have the capability of significantly reducing malaria, and life-threatening severe malaria, in tests on young African children. 

About the vaccine – Mosquirix 

Mosquirix has been developed by British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. It was approved for the pilot programme in 2015.

The vaccine acts against P. falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally, and the most prevalent in Africa 

The malaria vaccine should be provided in a schedule of 4 doses in children from 5 months of age for the reduction of malaria disease and burden.

Note: Among children who received 4 doses in large scale clinical trials, the vaccine was able to prevent approximately 4 in 10 cases of malaria over a 4-year period. 

More than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi have been vaccinated, and are benefiting from the vaccine as part of a pilot program. 

Read more: New Malaria Vaccine Can be a Game Changer in Curtailing Malaria
What is the significance of the WHO recommendation? 

WHO’s recommendation is based on the advice of its two global advisory bodies, one for immunization and the other for malaria.

Strategic delivery of the vaccine just prior to the high malaria transmission season can optimize impact and markedly reduce mortality, especially when combined with other recommended malaria control interventions. 

About Malaria

It is caused by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito (vector) if the mosquito itself is infected with a malarial parasite. It is preventable and curable. 

There are five kinds of malarial parasites — Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax (the commonest ones), Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale, and Plasmodium knowlesi. 

Children aged under 5 years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria; in 2019, they accounted for 67% (274,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide. 

In 2019, India had an estimated 5.6 million cases of malaria compared to about 20 million cases in 2000, according to WHO. 

What are the criteria for obtaining malaria-free status?

As per WHO, a country can be declared malaria-free when it reports zero indigenous cases of malaria for 3 or more years. Over the last two decades, 11 countries have been certified by the WHO as malaria-free. The latest one was El Salvador. 

Read more: El Salvador becomes “Malaria-free Country”

Source: This post is based on the following articles 

  • Explained: What is Mosquirix, the first malaria vaccine to get the WHO’s backing?” published in ‘Indian Express’ on 07 October 2021. 
  • WHO recommends first anti-Malarial vaccine” published in The Hindu on 07 October 2021.
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