Fri | Dec 8, 2023

WHO authorises second malaria vaccine, experts warn it’s not enough to stop disease spreading

Published:Wednesday | October 4, 2023 | 12:46 PM
A baby from the Malawi village of Tomali is injected with the world’s first vaccine against malaria in a pilot program, on December 11, 2019. The World Health Organization authorized a second malaria vaccine on Monday, October 2, 2023, a decision that could offer countries a cheaper and more effective option than the world’s first shot against the parasitic disease. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization authorised a second malaria vaccine on Monday, a decision that could offer countries a cheaper and more readily available option than the world's first shot against the parasitic disease.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the United Nations health agency was approving the new malaria vaccine based on the advice of two expert groups, recommending its use in children at risk of the disease.

“As a malaria researcher, I used to dream of the day we would have a safe and effective vaccine against malaria. Now we have two,” Tedros said.

Oxford University developed the new three-dose vaccine with help from the Serum Institute of India. Research suggests it is more than 75% effective and that protection is maintained for at least another year with a booster.

Tedros said the shot would cost about $2 to $4 and could be available in some countries next year if funders agree to buy it.

Earlier this year, regulatory authorities in Ghana and Burkina Faso approved the vaccine.

“This is one more tool we will now have, but it's not going to replace bed nets and spraying insecticides,” said John Johnson with Doctors Without Borders.

“This is not the vaccine that's going to stop malaria.”

Johnson was not part of the WHO expert group that gave the Oxford vaccine the green light.

In 2021, WHO endorsed the first malaria vaccine in what it described as a “historic” effort to end the devastating toll the mosquito-transmitted disease has on Africa, home to most of the world's estimated 200 million cases and 400,000 deaths.

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