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World's First Malaria Vaccine Launched

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The world's first malaria vaccine, known as RTS,S, was launched on Tuesday in Malawi, a country in southeast Africa, as part of a pilot program. This vaccine, prescribed for children up to 2 years of age, will be rolled out in two more African countries, Ghana and Kenya, in the coming weeks.

About 360,000 children are expected to receive the vaccine per year across the three sub-Saharan African countries.

The Deadly Malaria

Malaria is a life-threatening disease transmitted by female Anopheles mosquitoes, infected with Plasmodium parasites. Malaria occurs mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Every year, more than 250,000 children die from the disease in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

The Making of RTS,S

RTS,S was developed in 1987 by GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK). The Company continued with the development of the vaccine in 2001, collaborating with *PATH, and with support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. *PATH is a global health nonprofit organization.

The phase III trials with RTS,S were concluded in 2014. In the clinical trials, among children who received four doses, the vaccine prevented approximately 4 in 10 cases of malaria and 3 in 10 cases of severe malaria over a four-year period.

Commenting on the launch of the world's first malaria vaccine, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said, " We know the power of vaccines to prevent killer diseases and reach children, including those who may not have immediate access to the doctors, nurses and health facilities they need to save them when severe illness comes. This is a day to celebrate as we begin to learn more about what this tool can do to change the trajectory of malaria through childhood vaccination."

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