WHO approves the first malaria vaccine

Exciting vaccine news that's not about Covid: there's now a WHO-approved vaccine for malaria, a disease caused by a single-celled microorganism of the Plasmodium group— not a bacteria or virus. According to the NYT, this vaccine is "the first developed for any parasitic disease. Parasites are much more complex than viruses or bacteria, and the quest for a malaria vaccine has been underway for a hundred years."

In clinical trials, the vaccine had an efficacy of about 50 percent against severe malaria in the first year, with waning effects in the next years. 

In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, even those where most people sleep under insecticide-treated bed nets, children have on average six malaria episodes a year.

New York Times

According to the WHO, more than 260,000 African children under the age of five die from malaria annually.

Though trials have reached more than 800,000 children since 2019, the vaccine won't be widely available any time soon. It has to be approved by Gavi, the global vaccine alliance. With Covid still demanding the attention and resources of health officials, distribution may take years.