23 OCTOBER 2015 | GENEVA - The
World Health Organization's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) and the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC) jointly recommended
pilot projects to understand how to best use a vaccine that protects against
malaria in young children.
"This was a historic meeting with two of WHO's major advisory
committees working together to consider current evidence about this vaccine," said Professor Fred Binka, acting chair of MPAC. "The committees agreed that
pilot implementations should be the next step with this vaccine.”
The vaccine, known as RTS,S, is the first vaccine for malaria, but
there is one primary question. It requires four doses for a child to be fully
protected and therefore requires additional contacts with the health care system.
The first three doses are given one month apart followed by an 18-month pause
before the fourth dose. Without the fourth dose, children had no overall
reduction in severe malaria.
"The question about how the malaria vaccine may best be delivered
still need to be answered,"said Professor Jon S. Abramson, chair of SAGE. "After detailed assessment of all the evidence we recommended that this
question is best addressed by having 3-5 large pilot implementation projects."
The malaria vaccine, RTS,S, acts against P. falciparum, the most
deadly malaria parasite globally, and the most prevalent in Africa. It offers
no protection against P. vivax malaria, which predominates in many countries
outside of Africa. The vaccine is being assessed as a complementary malaria
control tool that could potentially be added to-but not replace-the core
package of proven malaria preventive, diagnostic and treatment measures.