The widespread rollout of the RTS,S malaria vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in what Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) chief executive Dr Seth Berkley called “a historic achievement.”
The vaccine will be rolled out across much of Africa and will be vital in the ongoing fight against malaria, which kills more than 260,000 African children every year.
The jab, developed by London-based pharmaceutical giant GSK, has already seen a successful pilot programme across Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi, where more than 800,000 children have received the vaccine.
The company, which donated 10 million doses for the pilot scheme, said the jab can reduce malaria deaths and hospital admissions by around 70 per cent when given in combination with antimalarial drugs.
GSK chief global health officer Thomas Breuer said, “This long-awaited decision can reinvigorate the fight against malaria in the region at a time when progress on malaria control has stalled.”
WHO said the vaccine has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives each year, in a move that “changes the course of public health history.”
The vaccine, which has been in development for three decades, was proven effective six years ago.
It requires four doses and will be administered to children aged five months and older.