Niger agreed at the end of April to administer the malaria vaccine from British giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to children under five. In 2020, under-fives accounted for 80% of deaths from malaria on the African continent.
“Substantial reduction in severe cases”
The Mosquirix vaccine (also called RTS.S) from the pharmaceutical group GSK is the only one to date to have shown some effectiveness against the parasite Plasmodium falciparum transmitted by mosquitoes, the most deadly in the world and the most prevalent in Africa. .
After favorable trials conducted since the spring of 2019 in Malawi, Ghana and Kenya, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in October 2021 its massive deployment in sub-Saharan Africa and in areas at risk. More than one million children have already received this vaccine showing protection of around 40% and a reduction “substantial serious cases”according to the WHO.
More than 155 million dollars have been mobilized by the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) to enable the delivery of these vaccines, the organization said. After sixty years of research, this is the first vaccine to show some effectiveness. Other vaccines could see the light of day in the years to come, in particular one developed by the University of Oxford, Matrix-M, which has shown an effectiveness of around 70% during trials.
Vaccines and treated mosquito nets
According to Dr Djermakoye Hadiza Jackou, coordinator of the National Malaria Control Program in Niger (PNLP), the vaccine is “an opportunity to be able to reduce mortality-morbidity” in children 0 to 5 years old “which represent more than 50% of cases (and) nearly 60% of deaths”.
According to her, a combination of the vaccine with other means of prevention, in particular mosquito nets impregnated with insecticides, will make it possible to bring down “of at least 75% the cases of malaria” in children. Around 90% of the world’s malaria cases are recorded in Africa, where 260,000 children die from it every year.