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WHO Announces 2nd Malaria Vaccine Recommendation

FILE - A nurse administers a malaria vaccine to an infant at the Lumumba Sub-County hospital in Kisumu, Kenya, July 1, 2022.
FILE - A nurse administers a malaria vaccine to an infant at the Lumumba Sub-County hospital in Kisumu, Kenya, July 1, 2022.

The World Health Organization on Monday announced the recommendation of a second malaria vaccine, with the aim of giving countries a cheaper and more readily available option to tackle the deadly disease.

Developed by Oxford University with the help of the Serum Institute of India, the new vaccine, known as R-21, will be rolled out in some African countries early next year, and expand into other countries later in 2024, according to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Research that has not yet undergone the usual process of scientific review suggests the three-dose vaccine to be around 75% effective. Boosters would be available for continued protection.

"Almost exactly two years ago, WHO recommended the broad use of the world's first malaria vaccine called RTS,S" also known as Mosquirix, Tedros told a briefing in Geneva.

Developed by British pharmaceutical GSK, Mosquirix requires four doses, is only about 30% effective, and fades within months. The WHO says there is not enough data available to confirm whether the newly developed Oxford vaccine will be more effective.

The Serum Institute has said it could produce 200 million doses of the R-21 vaccine per year, while GSK is able to produce only 15 million doses of Mosquirix annually.

The aim of widespread rollout of the vaccine would be to significantly curb infection rates and spread of the disease. However, experts have urged the public not to see vaccines as a replacement for other preventative measures, such as bed nets and the spraying of insecticides.

The WHO also issued a recommendation on a Takeda Pharmaceuticals-produced vaccine against dengue, a disease prevalent in subtropical climates which, like malaria, is spread by mosquitoes.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals' vaccine was shown to be effective in all four stereotypes of the virus in previously infected individuals, but it showed a lower performance in some stereotypes of people not previously infected.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters.

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