The world's first malaria vaccine will be available to the public next year. Pharma company GSK has sought permission from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for its malaria vaccine RTS,S. The vaccine will be for use against the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite, which is very common in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Around 90% of malarial deaths occur in SSA, and 77% of these are among under -5 children.
Data from 13 African research centres in eight African countries have also been included to support the filing. Results show that over 18 months, children aged 5-17 months vaccinated with RTS,S experienced 46% fewer cases of malaria, as compared to other children. Malaria hospitalizations were reduced by 42%.
RTS,S aims to activate the body's immunity against P falciparum when it first enters the bloodstream and/or when the parasite infects the liver. The vaccine is designed to prevent the parasite from infecting, maturing and multiplying in the liver, after which the parasite re-enters the blood to infect red blood cells, leading to symptoms.