Scientists have developed a second vaccine to protect children from malaria, a mosquito-borne disease. This new vaccine, called R21/Matrix-M, received an official thumbs-up from the World Health Organization (WHO) meaning it's safe and effective. This is the second malaria vaccine recommended by WHO after the RTS, S/AS01 vaccine, which received a WHO recommendation in 2021.
Before, there was only one malaria vaccine, but it wasn't enough for everyone who needed it. Now, with two vaccines, more children can be protected. The organisation shared that there were over 249 million cases of malaria in 2022, and total deaths amounted to 6,08,000. This is especially important in Africa, where millions of children get sick with malaria every year.
Second Malaria Vaccine
The R21/Matrix-M vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by Serum Institute of India is like a shield against malaria. Doctors and experts at WHO are excited about this new vaccine because it will give more children a chance to stay healthy and grow up strong. They're working with countries and organisations to make sure the vaccine reaches everyone who needs it.
Calling malaria a formidable foe, Dr Kate O’Brien, Director, Department of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals, WHO said, "Today marks a huge stride in global health as we welcome the prequalification of R21/Matrix-M, the second malaria vaccine recommended for children in malaria-endemic areas. This is another step toward ensuring a healthier, more resilient future for those who have lived for too long in fear of what malaria could do to their children.”
The scientists at WHO and those who developed the vaccine shared that this is a big step forward in the fight against malaria, but there's still more work to do. They shared the need to keep researching and developing even better vaccines and medicines to one day stop malaria completely.
In addition to the vaccine, WHO also recommended preventive measures like using mosquito nets when sleeping, mosquito repellents after dusk, using coils and vaporisers, wearing protective clothing, and using window screens to ward off mosquito bites.
Expressing his excitement and gratitude, The Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed how the broad-scale availability of two malaria vaccines will act as a vital tool to protect children across the world from this dangerous infection and achieve a malaria-free future.