Reaction to WHO decision on the RTS,S vaccine

Sir Brian Greenwood says this decision is testament to the global health community's drive and vision to find a way forward

The World Health Organization has recommended widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission.

The recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800 000 children since 2019.

Professor Sir Brian Greenwood from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has played a pivotal role in malaria vaccination trials and research since the inception of RTS,S. He said:

“This is a historic day for malaria. For the first time we have a vaccine that is now recommended for expanded use in areas of Africa where the disease is endemic.

“With malaria still a major cause of death, especially among children in Africa, this decision has the potential to save millions of young lives. We urgently need more tools and innovative, practical solutions to malaria.

“The RTS,S vaccine does not provide complete protection but this decision is testament to the global health community's drive and vision to find a way forward. As part of a tailored approach it has great potential to reduce death and illness in high burden areas, especially when combined with other interventions such as seasonal malaria chemoprevention and bed nets, and be a huge boost to malaria control efforts. 

“It's taken a long time to get to this momentous day but the journey has been worth it. The decision is the result of an extraordinary multinational partnership of committed and highly-skilled people and organisations in the UK and Africa and comes after many years of work and dedication.

“It is important that long-term investment and commitment to science and global health partnerships like these continue so that the complex challenges that a disease such as malaria poses can be addressed and the potentially lifesaving benefits of RTS,S and other interventions can be realised.”



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