By Leah Eisenstadt
How will the vaccine change lives in areas hardest hit by malaria?
The vaccine is not a silver bullet — it’s not 100 percent efficacious and it’s relatively short lived. Many in the malaria community had mixed feelings about the level of protection from RTS,S. But in fact, the pilot implementation studies run by WHO showed that it prevents hospitalizations and reduces clinical disease. That means it clears hospital beds for others, and it means parents won’t have to take their children to the hospital as often. Those things have a real impact on people’s health.
So, it’s important to recognize that “perfect” may be the enemy of something that could be of enormous value from a public health perspective. Just as we continue to wear masks after getting vaccinated for COVID, we will continue to need to use bed nets and other malaria control measures, but the RTS,S vaccine is a new tool that can have added value. And for the target population, those very young children who are at risk of severe disease or death, it can give them added protection. That’s what’s exciting — to have a new way of attacking this disease.
Why has it taken decades to develop a malaria vaccine?
This vaccine has been a long time in the making. Read more …