Health: Malaria kills 400.000 babies every year!

3 min read

Malaria has been one of the greatest scars on humanity over a millennium and mainly attacks and kills babies.

Having a vaccine - after more than a century of effort - is one of the greatest achievements of medicine.
And, the vaccine called RTS, S proved effective six years ago.

Now, after the success of pilot immunization programs in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, the World Health Organization says the vaccine should enter into use throughout sub-Saharan Africa and other regions.

The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough in science, child health and malaria control.

Malaria is a parasite that invades and destroys human blood cells in order to reproduce, and is spread by the bite of blood-sucking mosquitoes.

The greatest burden of the disease is felt in Africa, where more than 260.000 children died from the disease in 2019 alone.

About 400.000 malaria deaths are recorded each year worldwide.
It takes years of being repeatedly infected to build up immunity and even that only reduces the chances of getting seriously ill.

Dr Kwame Amponsa-Achiano piloted the vaccine in Ghana to assess whether mass vaccination was feasible and effective.

"It was a very exciting moment for us, with large-scale vaccination I believe the number of malaria patients will be reduced to a minimum," he said.

The continued spread of malaria in children inspired dr. Amponsa-Achiano to become a doctor in Ghana.

There are more than 100 types of malaria parasites. The RTS, S vaccine targets what is most deadly and common in Africa: Plasmodium falciparum.

The trials, reported in 2015, showed that the vaccine could prevent about four in 10 malaria cases, three in 10 severe cases, and lead to a reduction in the number of children in need of blood transfusions by a third.

However, there were doubts that the vaccine would work in the real world as it requires four doses to be effective. The first three are given one month between doses at the ages of five, six and seven months, and a final booster is needed in children who turn 18 months old.

Malaria is caused by a parasite which is much more secretive and sophisticated than the virus that Covid causes.

The malaria parasite has evolved to evade our immune system. This is why you need to catch malaria occasionally before you start getting even limited protection.

There is a complicated life cycle in two species (humans and mosquitoes), even within our body it morphs between different forms as it infects liver cells and red blood cells.

This is why the vaccine is 'only' 40% effective. However, this is still a tremendous success and paves the way for the development of even more powerful vaccines.

Dr Ashley Birkett, of the malaria vaccine initiative, said the release of the vaccine was a "historic event" that would "remove the fear" from families.

"Malaria is a big problem, it's scary and scary," said Dr Ashley Birkett, who quoted the BBC in a lengthy article. ed-21Media