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First Malaria Vaccine: Everything you should know

First Malaria Vaccine test in Malawi
April 25, 2019

Malaria, a life-threatening disease is not limited to one region or country; its rising cases and lack of proper treatment makes the disease uncontrollable. Worldwide, malaria takes 4,35,000 lives every year, with most of them being children. However, a pilot project for a new vaccination has been recently launched in Malawi to curb the disease.

But can this new vaccine help India in keeping malaria at bay? Let’s find out the related details and how the vaccination performs on the effectiveness scale.

RTS,S Vaccine: A Ray of Hope

As per WHO, Malawi, a country in East Africa, rolled out a pilot program of a malaria vaccine on 24th April, 2019. Known as the RTS,S vaccine, the vaccination will be available to everyone under the age of 2, thus, reinforcing, the old adage ‘Prevention is Better than Cure.’ In the coming months, the vaccine will be made available in Kenya and Ghana.

Why was there no Malaria Vaccine till Date?

Let’s dive into several technicalities to understand what was stopping the medical connoisseurs to make a malaria vaccine.

The first and foremost reason is malaria itself. Malaria is caused by a parasite, which is complex in terms of its genetics. Secondly, the development of the vaccine has been hindered by the absence of a traditional market in the countries where malaria prevails. Pharmaceutical companies don’t see much financial scope in such countries and thus put no efforts on the development of a vaccine.

Though there were a few malaria vaccines earlier, they were not effective enough in doing the job. Now all eyes are on RTS,S to halt the progress of malaria.

How Effective is RTS,S?

In the clinical trials that took place, it was found that the vaccine is capable of preventing 4 in 10 malaria cases. This figure includes 3 in 10 cases of severe malaria.

How this Vaccine Could be a Big Boon for India?

Undoubtedly, it marks a moment of joy for all the Indians when the country ranks high on various scales and indexes. But unfortunately, India also has a high rank in the list of countries with malaria. As per the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, an enormous 3,99,134 cases of malaria were reported in 2018 in India. What’s more shocking are the reports which say that India just records 8% of the actual malaria cases. #Shocking

If the vaccine finds success in Kenya and Ghana, it will be rolled out in other malaria-hit countries including India, thus, reducing the number of deaths due to malaria to a great extent.

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