Ugandans may have to wait two years to get the malaria vaccine recommended by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Mosquirix is the first vaccination against the mosquito-borne disease that kills over 400,000 people each year, mostly children in Africa. The four-dose vaccine was licensed following an evaluation of a trial program in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, where it was discovered to be roughly 50% effective in guarding against Africa’s worst malaria parasite.
The vaccine, which is recommended for use in areas with high transmission rates, should be given to children aged five months to three years in four doses.
However, Dr. Jimmy Opigo, the ministry’s Programme Manager for Malaria Control, says they want to incorporate the vaccine into children’s usual childhood vaccination schedules, but they’re still debating whether to start with highly endemic areas as a pilot or roll it out throughout.
All prior vaccine candidates failed to make it past clinical trials, according to malaria studies, while bed nets, the most widely used preventive strategy, only reduced malaria fatalities in children under the age of five by only 20%. This means that, despite its limited efficacy, the new vaccine represents the most significant advancement in the fight against the disease in decades.
“This is a watershed point in history.” “The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health, and malaria control,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement on Wednesday evening, adding that countries and donors will be discussing how the vaccines will be made available to the countries that need it the most in the coming months.
Despite the fact that the vaccine was only announced yesterday, he claims his agency has been preparing ahead and has already given recommendations to the government on whether it should be publicly supported or enable the private sector to import doses. He also says they’re still debating whether to vaccinate all children under the age of five, who make up around 20% of the population.
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, on the other hand, has already stated his willingness to assist any efforts to find a vaccine, despite the country’s 9 percent prevalence of the disease.
Museveni said he had launched a full war against Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria, at a meeting of malaria researchers organized by Harvard University in September, but wondered why it had been impossible to develop a vaccine while pathogens like the SARS COV-2 virus, which had only recently emerged, had vaccines.
With the preparations still ahead of them, as well as logistical challenges on a worldwide scale, Opigo estimates that it will take Uganda two years before actual vaccinations begin.
Even with the immunizations in place, the doctor cautions Ugandans not to overlook other preventive measures such as sleeping under bed nets, since the disease’s total eradication will require a combination of efforts.