An Oxford University-developed vaccine against malaria has been approved and cleared for use in Ghana, its first such approval in the world.
Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority has approved the vaccine’s use in children aged between five months to three years as the west African country strengthens its efforts to control malaria-related child mortality. Around 20,000 children die of malaria every year in Ghana, 25% of whom are aged under five.
India’s Serum Institute, which is partnering with Oxford University, built a vaccine factory in the country’s capital Accra to produce up to 200 million doses a year.
However, the launch of the vaccine will involve a lot of groundwork in Ghana.
“While the vaccine might be heralded as a huge win in the fight against malaria, it is no silver bullet,” Javier Guzman, the director of global health policy at the Center for Global Development, told Quartz. “There are important points to consider before the R21 vaccine is rolled out for wider use.”
An earlier vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Mosquirix, had an effectiveness rating of about 60% but was approved by WHO since there was no alternative in sight. It was only 30% effective in preventing severe cases. It required at least four doses to be effective although its effectiveness waned with time.
GSK committed to producing 15 million doses of Mosquirix annually till 2028. But it fell short of the 100 million required for long-term intervention.
The World Malaria Report cited 247 million cases in 2021 compared to 245 million in 2020.
The estimated number of deaths stood at 619, 000 in 2021, with four African countries accounting for more than half of them: Nigeria (31.3%), the Democratic Republic of Congo (12.6%), Tanzania (4.1%), and Niger (3.9%). Children aged under five accounted for about 80% of these cases in Africa.
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