New Malaria Vaccine


News release

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.

Source: WHO.