NAFDAC-approved Malaria Vaccine: A New Hope for Nigeria and Africa.

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“To grasp its fatality, Malaria is one of the leading causes of death globally. In 2020 alone, an estimated 627,000 people died of malaria—most of whom were young children in sub-Saharan Africa.”

In the past few years, there has been a significant build-up in the prospect of using vaccines to tackle malaria. It was RTS,S that scientists first came up with in 2021 after more than 30 years of research and clinical trials. The vaccine, also known as Mosquirix, offered a glimmer of hope to Africa – the continent shouldering the heaviest burden of the disease. Being the first-ever vaccine for a human parasitic infection, Mosquirix was a breakthrough for Science so much so that it became the stepping stone in figuring out new vaccines that may work best in the future.

THE RTS,S VACCINE AND ITS SUCCESSORS.

When the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the broad use Mosquirix, on October 2021, for “at-risk” children under 5, there was a paradigm shift in the global effort put towards developing malaria vaccines. Currently, a new R21 vaccine is hitting the headlines. The R21/Matrix-M was developed by the University of Oxford and it is described as more effective, more potent than its predecessor – the RTS,S.

R21: AFRICA’S NEW HOPE.

After seeing approval by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigeria becomes the second country after Ghana to officially adopt the R21 vaccine for broad use. According to the body, Matrix-M complied substantially with the best international standards. The vaccine has also been described as one that has one that could comtribute to the overall, final goal of malaria elimination.

The R21 vaccine boasts of exceeding the WHO threshold of 75 per cent efficacy over 12 months of follow-up. At 80 per cent efficacy, R21 is believed to have a “world-changing” potential. Its predecessor – the RTS,S – is recorded to have only 30% efficacy in severe cases. Moreover, the new vaccine has a cost advantage over RTS,S.

R21 is believed to have a “world-changing” potential.

RESIDUALS OF THE NEW R21 VACCINE.

The new vaccine does not have it all shiny and rosy. It’s effectiveness still pales in comparison to other routinely administered vaccines such as measles (97% efficacy) and poliomyelitis (90-99% efficacy), as well as in comparison to the COVID-19 vaccines (95% efficacy). Also, experts say that the overall demand of the vaccine – which could be up to 100 million doses – may hamper its efficient rollout and distribution.

Again, there are still questions as to whether the growing resistance of malaria parasites to vaccines would not disturb the efficacy of R21.

WAY FORWARD.

For the sake of developing countries, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa, Malaria elimination and eventual eradication will require internationally coordinated approaches; sustained engagement from politicians, communities, and funders; efficient organizational structures; innovation and new tools; and well-managed programmes.

To grasp its fatality, Malaria is one of the leading causes of death globally. In 2020 alone, an estimated 627,000 people died of malaria—most of whom were young children in sub-Saharan Africa.

WE MUST USE ALL OUR ARMAMENTARIUM.

The new malaria vaccine would only be maximized when used alongside already existing prevention measures such as bed nets, insecticides and the cutting-edge Artemisin-combination Treatment.

CONCLUSION.

As researchers discover new novel methods and vaccines of treating and preventing Malaria, there is a renowned hope for developing countries. However, there is still a need to use a multi-pronged strategy to terminate the malaria parasite. If this is made available through concerted efforts, Malaria may become a thing of the past in the nearest future.

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