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A Vaccine for Malaria

LIFESAVER The Mosquirix vaccine was endorsed by the World Health Organization on October 6. PATRICK MEINHARDT—GETTY IMAGES

On October 6, the World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed the first vaccine that helps protect against malaria. The WHO advises that the vaccine, Mosquirix, should be given to children in parts of Africa. Malaria is carried by mosquitoes. It kills more than 400,000 people every year. Most live in Africa.

“Today’s recommendation offers a glimmer of hope for the continent,” says Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Africa director. “We expect many more African children to be protected from malaria and grow into healthy adults.”

The vaccine has its drawbacks. It’s only about 30% effective against the worst cases. And a person must get up to four doses. Protection fades after only a few months.

But health officials say this could be a breakthrough in the fight against malaria. “This is a huge step forward,” says Julian Rayner of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research. “It’s an imperfect vaccine, but it will still stop hundreds of thousands of children from dying.”

The WHO based its advice on research that tracked more than 800,000 children who have gotten the vaccine since 2019.

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