The vaccine, known as RTS, S, offers partial protection against infection, and tests show that it prevents four out of ten cases of the disease. According to doctors, the vaccine is capable of saving tens of thousands of children's lives each year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria is one of the most serious killers in the world, killing one child every two minutes. Most of these deaths occur in Africa, where 250,000 young people die from the disease every year. “Over the past 15 years, we have seen tremendous benefits from the use of various measures to combat malaria, but in some regions progress has stalled and even turned back,” says Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, WHO Director-General “We need new solutions to defeat malaria, and the new vaccine is a promising tool to achieve this goal.”
Studies conducted between 2009 and 2014 in Africa identified four doses of RTS, S, which led to a significant reduction in the prevalence of malaria and its complications. According to the data, the vaccine prevented four out of ten standard cases of the disease and three out of ten severe cases. In addition, the vaccine also prevented six out of ten cases of severe malaria anemia. It occurs when malaria parasites infect red blood cells, causing them to rupture, which reduces the total number of blood cells. Malaria anemia is the leading cause of death in infected children.
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The RTS, S vaccine causes the immune system to attack the malaria parasite. African countries Malawi, Kenya and Ghana were chosen for the initial test because there are a large number of cases of malaria, despite effective prevention and vaccination programs. The vaccine, which has been in development for about 30 years, will be administered in three doses to children aged 5 to 9 months, and the fourth dose, considered the most important, will be given at about 2 years old.
Experts note that vaccination will be an additional means of combating malaria, along with the installation of special nets treated with insecticides, spraying of rooms with insecticides and other methods. The vaccination program aims to reach approximately 360,000 children annually in three countries.