- James Gallagher
- BBC Science and Medical Correspondent
Ghana has become the first country to approve a new malaria vaccine that the scientists behind it have described as “world-changing”.
A vaccine called R21 appears to be highly effective, which differs sharply from previous programs in the same field.
Regulators of the pharmaceutical sector in Ghana evaluated the final trial data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, which has not yet been published, and decided to use it.
The World Health Organization is also considering approving the vaccine.
Malaria kills about 620,000 people each year, most of them young children.
For a century, scientists worked on a massive scientific project to develop a vaccine that would protect the body against malaria parasites.
Experimental data from early studies in Burkina Faso showed that the R21 vaccine was up to 80% effective when given as three initial doses, followed by a booster dose a year later.
But expanding the vaccine’s use depends on the results of a larger trial involving nearly 5,000 children.
It was expected to be conducted at the end of last year, but the test results have not yet been officially released. However, this has been viewed by some government agencies and scholars in Africa.
I haven’t seen the final data, but it shows similar results to previous studies.
After looking at the data, the Ghana Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine for use in children between five months and three years of age.
Other African countries are working on the data, as is the World Health Organization.
Professor Adrian Hill, director of Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, where the vaccine was developed, said African countries would “make up their minds” after delays in accessing Covid-19 vaccines during the pandemic.
“We expect R21 to have a significant impact on child malaria mortality in the coming years, and in the long term,” Hill told me. [ستساهم] With the overall ultimate goal of malaria eradication and eradication.
The Institute of Serums in India is gearing up to produce 100-200 million doses annually, and a vaccine plant has been set up in Accra, the capital of Ghana.
Each dose of the R21 vaccine is expected to cost a few dollars.
“Developing a vaccine that effectively affects such a large number of patients is very challenging,” said Aadhar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute.
Ghana, the first country to approve the vaccine, marks a “milestone in our efforts to fight malaria globally,” he said.
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