WHO approves world's first malaria vaccine in 'long-awaited landmark decision'

The World Health Organization threw its support behind the first ever vaccine to prevent malaria, a "historical" decision that "could save the lives of tens of thousands of children in Africa each year," The New York Times reports.

"I longed for the day that we would have an effective vaccine against this ancient and terrible disease," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, per The Wall Street Journal. "Today is that day. An historic day."

Ghebreyesus also noted the vaccine, known as Mosquirix and developed by GlaxoSmithKline, would have to be used alongside other preventative measures like bed nets and pesticides. The WHO's endorsement is a "crucial step" in ramping up investment for greater production and rollout, writes the Journal. The shot will be deployed in sub-Saharan Africa and other at-risk regions.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

"This long-awaited landmark decision can reinvigorate the fight against malaria in the region at a time when progress on malaria control has stalled," said Thomas Breuer, chief global health officer at Glaxo.

The vaccine has a "relatively low efficacy," and requires four doses in young children over approximately 18 months; but still, when combined with preventative drugs during high-transmissions seasons, the "dual approach" proved "much more effective at preventing severe disease ... than either method alone," per the Times and the Journal.

What's more, Dr. Mary Hamel, who heads the WHO's malaria vaccine implementation program, believes distribution will be relatively simple. "We aren't going to have to spend a decade trying to figure out how to get this to children," Hamel said, adding, "The ability to reduce inequities in access to malaria prevention — that's important. It was impressive to see that this could reach children who are currently not being protected."

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us