Malaria expert predicts vaccine will spur innovation

In October, the World Health Organization (WHO) for the first time recommended a broad rollout of a vaccine that protects against Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa. RTS,S/AS01 (Mosquirix) is the first vaccine to treat malaria and the first developed to treat any parasitic disease. Malaria kills nearly a half million people a year, mostly children under five in Africa.

Dyann Wirth, Richard Pearson Strong Professor of Infectious Diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and chair of the WHO’s Malaria Policy Advisory Group, discussed the vaccine on a November 12, 2021, episode of the radio program Living on Earth.

“This work has proved that a vaccine for malaria is possible. There were many who didn’t believe it was possible,” she said. She noted the excitement in the field as other scientists pursue additional malaria vaccine candidates. “I think [RTS,S/AS01] will allow the scientific community to begin to imagine making even better vaccines. This first one is a groundbreaker. And it’s very important to say here that this represents years of work. It takes a village to raise the child. It takes a super village to make a vaccine.”

Listen to or read the Living on Earth story: Malaria Vaccine Gets Green Light

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WHO’s historic recommendation for malaria vaccine spurs hope (Harvard Chan School news)