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Cameroon Starts World’s First Routine Malaria Vaccine Rollout

Cameroon Starts World’s First Routine Malaria Vaccine Rollout
NAIROBI, KENYA - OCTOBER 08: In this photo illustration, a person holds two vials of the Mosquirix vaccine on October 8, 2021 in Nairobi, Kenya. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization backed the widespread rollout of the Mosquirix vaccine, which is made by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, after successful pilot programs in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi. (Photo by Patrick Meinhardt/Getty Images)

Children in Cameroon have become the world’s first to get routine malaria immunizations after the Central African country adopted the World Health Organization-recommended shot.

Across the continent about 19 other nations plan to introduce the vaccine this year, reaching more than 3 million children. Some have already received shipments, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said in a statement on Monday.This is an important step in fighting an infection that kills more than 600,000 people a year, largely in sub-Saharan Africa, with most being children under the age of five. In the next six years, the WHO aims to reduce both the incidence of malaria and mortality from the disease by 90%, and to eliminate it in 35 countries.

Making a malaria vaccine has been a tricky target. The parasites that cause the deadly disease are prone to mutations that allow them to become resistant to treatments. There is also the threat that climate change will push transmission from mostly tropical areas into new regions.

Known as Mosquirix, the dose will be used along with existing methods such as bed nets and spraying indoor surfaces. It was developed by GSK Plc in partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, and was trialled in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi from 2019. The shot should be given to children from the age of five months in a schedule of four doses.

A second WHO-backed malaria vaccine may be available later this year.

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