History Made: First Malaria Vaccine Approved by WHO

Allyson Lin, World and breaking news editor

Malaria has killed roughly 500,000 people each year and half of that number are children in Africa according to the New York Times. Experts have admitted that the vaccine isn’t perfect, but it will get there. 

The RTS,S is the first protein-based vaccine on malaria, the oldest and most deadliest infectious disease known.  Scientists estimated that it could save tens of thousands of children each year. The new vaccine created by GlaxoSmithGline can thwart off the most dangerous of the five malaria pathogens. 

With the production of the malaria vaccine Mosquirix, it is not just the first for malaria, but for any parasitic disease. Dr. Alonso told the New York Times, “It’s a huge jump from the science perspective to have a first-generation vaccine against a human parasite”.

On Wednesday, The World Health Organization  validated the vaccine, which is the first step of the process that can lead to distribution to poor countries. They deem it safe and moderately effective and are ready for distribution. 

Having the malaria vaccine is considered “a historic event,” by Dr. Pedro Alonso, the director of W.H.O’s global malaria program, according to the New York Times.

Results of the malaria vaccine were found by two research groups at WHO on Wednesday. 

According to the BBC, with 2.3 million doses distributed: 

  • the vaccine was safe and still led to a 30% reduction in severe malaria
  • it reached more than two-thirds of children who don’t have a bed-net to sleep under
  • there was no negative impact on other routine vaccines or other measures to prevent malaria
  • the vaccine was cost-effective

The creation of malaria is ground-breaking for the history of medicine. In 2020, Malaria is known to have caused roughly 409,000 deaths, according to the CDC and this new vaccine can go on to save lives in Africa and around the world.