WHO backs first-ever malaria vaccine for children in at-risk regions

The World Health Organization on Wednesday recommended widespread use of the world's first and only malaria vaccine for children in sub-Saharan Africa and other at-risk regions, a potential game changer against a parasitic disease that kills an average of one child every two minutes. The agency said children in areas with moderate to high levels of P. falciparum, the deadliest and predominant species of the parasite causing malaria, should take the four-dose vaccine starting at 5 months old. The shots - called Mosquirix and developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline - are only 30% effective at preventing deadly, severe cases, but the WHO believes they could drastically reduce the number of deaths. When paired with existing drugs to prevent malaria, the shots could end up saving tens of thousands of young lives each year. Malaria is a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa, killing more than 260,000 children under the age of 5 die from malaria every year, according to the WHO. Despite some gains in controlling the disease over the past two decades, progress has stalled in recent years. (Daily News)

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