GLOBAL vaccine alliance GAVI said 12 countries in Africa would receive 18 million doses of malaria vaccine over the next two years, expanding access to the shots to nine new countries in the region.
Malaria remains one of the continent’s deadliest diseases, killing nearly half a million children each year under the age of five. In 2021, Africa accounted for about 95% of global malaria cases and 96% of deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“At least 28 African countries have expressed interest in receiving the RTS,S (malaria) vaccine,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing, adding that a second malaria vaccine was under review for pre-qualification and if successful, could provide additional supply in the short term.
Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have been receiving the RTS,S vaccine since 2019 as part of a pilot program funded by GAVI and more than 1.7 million children in the countries have been dosed with it, GAVI, UNICEF and the WHO said in a joint statement.
The nine new countries set to receive the vaccine, developed by British drugmaker GSK, are Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Niger, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
The first doses of the RTS,S vaccine are expected to reach the 12 African countries during the last quarter of 2023, allowing them to start rolling out by early next year.