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What is Mosquirix, the first malaria vaccine to get the WHO’s backing?

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

 

Context:

RTS,S/ASO1 (RTS.S), trade name Mosquirix, was recently endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

  • It is the first and, to date only, vaccine shown to have the capability of significantly reducing malaria, and life-threatening severe malaria, in tests on young African children.

 

About Mosquirix:

  • The vaccine acts against falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally, and the most prevalent in Africa.
  • It is also the first malaria vaccine to be introduced by three national ministries of health through their childhood immunization programmes — Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi.

 

About Malaria:

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

 

Malaria burden across the world:

  • Malaria is most endemic in Africa, with Nigeria, Congo, Tanzania, Mozambique, Niger and Burkina Faso together accounting for over half the yearly deaths.
  • Even now, the disease kills over four lakh every year, according to WHO figures.
  • Children aged under 5 years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria; in 2019, they accounted for 67% (274,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.
  • In 2019, India had an estimated 5.6 million cases of malaria compared to about 20 million cases in 2020.

 

Countries that have eliminated malaria:

Countries that have achieved at least 3 consecutive years of zero indigenous cases of malaria are eligible to apply for the WHO certification of malaria elimination.

Over the last two decades, 11 countries have been certified by the WHO Director-General as malaria-free:

  • United Arab Emirates (2007), Morocco (2010), Turkmenistan (2010), Armenia (2011), Sri Lanka (2016), Kyrgyzstan (2016), Paraguay (2018), Uzbekistan (2018), Algeria (2019), Argentina (2019), and El Salvador (2021).

 

Challenges ahead:

The latest vaccine is considered only the first step towards effective immunisation of the global population against malaria. This vaccine is able to prevent severe cases of malaria in only 30 percent of the cases, and the quest for more effective vaccines is still underway.

 

Reasons for the failure to develop a malaria vaccine so far:

  1. The complexity of the life-cycle of the malaria-causing parasite, a part of which is spent in the human host.
  2. These parasites are also able to hide inside human cells to avoid being recognised by the immune system, creating further challenges.
  3. Lack of funding and interest in developing a malaria vaccine.
  4. The vaccine manufacturers have little incentive for malaria vaccines.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that China is the first country in the WHO Western Pacific Region to be awarded a malaria-free certification in more than 3 decades? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Difference and examples of various diseases caused by Virus and Bacteria.
  2. Malaria- causes and treatment.
  3. About WHO Certification process.
  4. Overview of WHO World Malaria Report 2020.

Mains Link:

Discuss India’s efforts targeted at Malaria control.

Sources: Indian Express.