The world’s first malaria vaccine has received a green light from European drugs regulators who recommended it should be licensed for use in babies in Africa who are at risk of the mosquito-borne disease.
The shot, called RTS,S or Mosquirix, would be the first licensed human vaccine against a parasitic disease and could help prevent millions of cases of malaria in countries that use it.
The vaccine was developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative,
Recommendations for a drug licence made by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are normally endorsed by the European Commission within a couple of months.
Mosquirix, also part-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will also now be assessed by the World Health Organisation, which has promised to give its guidance on when and where it should be used before the end of this year.
Malaria killed an estimated 584,000 people in 2013, the vast majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
More than 80 percent of malaria deaths are in children under the age of five.
Andrew Witty, GSK’s chief executive, said EMA’s positive recommendation was a further important step towards making the world’s first malaria vaccine available for young children.
“While RTS,S on its own is not the complete answer to malaria, its use alongside those interventions currently available such as bed nets and insecticides would provide a very meaningful contribution to controlling the impact of malaria on children in those African communities that need it the most,” he said in a statement.
‘Enormously significant ‘
Global health experts have long hoped scientists would be able to develop an effective malaria vaccine, and researchers at GSK have been working on RTS,S for 30 years.