Kenya has become the third African country, along with Ghana and Malawi, to launch a pilot program for the world’s first malaria vaccine, Mosquirix, which has been developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). The vaccine is available to children from six months of age in specific locations in Kenya due to its phased pilot introduction.1 2
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.3 It is preventable and curable. Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache and chills.
The African region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), malaria occurs mostly in poor tropical areas of the world and Africa is affected the most due to “scarce resources and socio-economic instability have hindered efficient malaria control activities.”3 4
The pilot program is being coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with Kenya’s Ministry of Health and international partners, including global health non-profit PATH of Seattle, Washington and the United Kingdom’s GSK which has donated 10 million vaccine doses for the program.1
The malaria vaccine will be administered to children in four doses: three doses between six and nine months of age and the fourth dose at two years old. The goal is to vaccinate more than 120,000 children per year in Kenya across the selected introduction areas including Homa Bay, Kisumu, Migori, Siaya, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga and Kakamega counties. Within the eight counties, some sub-counties will introduce the vaccine into vaccine schedules, while others are expected to introduce the vaccine later.2 5
According to a document on the website of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the identified risks of the vaccine include febrile convulsions and other the potential complications include meningitis, hypersensitivity (including anaphylaxis), immune related disorders, rebound effects and cerebral malaria.6
1 World Health Organization. Malaria vaccine launched in Kenya: Kenya joins Ghana and Malawi to roll out landmark vaccine in pilot introduction. WHO Regional Office for Africa Sept. 13, 2019.
2 Ree V. Kenya launches phased malaria vaccine pilot programme. European Pharmaceutical Review Sept. 16, 2019.
3 WHO. Malaria. WHO.int Mar. 27, 2019.
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Malaria’s Impact Worldwide. CDC.gov Jan. 4, 2019.
5 Saya M. WHO to use key data from malaria vaccine pilots for policy making. The Star Sept. 16, 2019.
6 European Medicines Agency. Summary of risk management plan for Mosquirix. EMA.Europa.eu July 30, 2019.