First country to approve the ‘world-changer’ malaria vaccine is Ghana.

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The ‘world-changer’ malaria vaccine. image: UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

Scientists who developed a groundbreaking new malaria vaccine are lauding Ghana as the first country to give it official approval, hailing it as a “world-changer.”

Ghana has taken a significant step in the fight against malaria by becoming the first country to grant approval for a new vaccine called R21, which has been hailed as a game-changer by the scientists who developed it. In contrast to previous attempts, R21 has shown remarkable effectiveness in combating the deadly disease.

Ghana’s drug regulators have carefully evaluated the final trial data on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, which has not yet been made public, and have given their approval for its use.

The World Health Organization is also considering granting its approval for this groundbreaking vaccine.

Malaria remains a major global health challenge, claiming the lives of approximately 620,000 people each year, with young children being particularly vulnerable.

Developing a vaccine to protect against the malaria parasite has been a long-standing scientific endeavor spanning over a century.

Preliminary studies conducted in Burkina Faso have shown that the R21 vaccine can be up to 80% effective when administered in three initial doses, followed by a booster shot after one year.

This promising result has generated excitement among scientists and health experts, who view the approval of R21 in Ghana as a significant milestone in the battle against malaria.

The widespread use of the R21 malaria vaccine is contingent on the results of a larger trial involving nearly 5,000 children, the findings of which have not yet been formally published, though they have been shared with select government bodies and scientists.

While the final data is not yet available, early indications suggest that the results align with earlier studies.

Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority, which has access to the data, has granted approval for the use of the vaccine in children aged between five months to three years old.

Other African countries are also closely examining the data, and the World Health Organization is actively monitoring the situation.

Professor Adrian Hill, the director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, where the R21 vaccine was developed, highlights that African countries are taking charge of their own decisions regarding the vaccine, given their experience of being left behind in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic.

This underscores the significance of Ghana’s approval of the R21 vaccine and its potential impact on malaria control in Africa.

Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, expressed confidence in the potential of the R21 vaccine, stating, “We expect R21 to make a major impact on malaria mortality in children in the coming years, and in the longer term [it] will contribute to the overall final goal of malaria eradication and elimination.”

In preparation for widespread distribution, the Serum Institute of India is gearing up to produce between 100-200 million doses of R21 annually, with plans to construct a vaccine factory in Accra, Ghana.

The estimated cost for each dose of R21 is expected to be a few dollars, making it accessible for populations in need.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute, highlighted the significance of Ghana’s approval of the vaccine, stating that it represents a “significant milestone in our efforts to combat malaria around the world.

” Developing an effective malaria vaccine has been a formidable challenge, and the approval of R21 in Ghana marks a step forward in addressing the immense disease burden posed by malaria, particularly among children.

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