ASTMH Applauds WHO’s Recommendation for Use of First Approved RTS,S Malaria Vaccine for Children

Posted 8 October 2021

'This Malaria Vaccine Gives Us Hope'

ASTMH applauds the WHO’s recent recommendation for widespread use of the RTS,S vaccine for children at risk in sub-Saharan Africa and other endemic regions. 
Malaria kills close to half a million people each year, nearly all of them in sub-Saharan Africa, including more than 260,000 children under 5. The RTS,S malaria vaccine—the first successful anti-parasite vaccine in humans—is recommended as a 4-dose regimen, with the first dose given at age 5 months.
"This is the most exciting malaria news in years," said 2019 President Chandy John, MD, Director of the Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Global Health at Indiana University School of Medicine. "This vaccine could be a game changer when it comes to saving tens of thousands of young lives that are cut short each year by malaria. To have a vaccine available for children that will decrease the risk of severe malaria by 30% is a major step forward in the work of malaria elimination and eradication. 
"It will be even more effective in combination with other malaria prevention measures already implemented. Like many ASTMH members, I am a clinician, researcher and educator, and this vaccine gives us hope that we can reinvigorate the fight against malaria that’s stalled over the past few years. We look forward to even more effective vaccines in the future,” Dr. John said. 
A key enabler for the development of the RTS,S malaria vaccine has been the long-term collaboration of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR)—an important example of the historical relevance of malaria's impact on military operations in malaria-endemic areas. In a partnership that has lasted over 30 years, the WRAIR malaria vaccine development team, through its U.S.-based laboratories and international clinical trials sites, conducted important laboratory research and clinical trials that later paved the way for the larger definitive efficacy study of RTS,S in sub-Saharan Africa. 
Among the many who made this moment possible, including CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria and PATH, we are especially grateful to ASTMH member and vaccine development expert Ripley (“Rip”) Ballou, MD, who played an instrumental role serving as the scientific and programmatic leader for the Army malaria vaccine program until his military retirement in 1999, and later at in his role leading vaccine development and discovery at GSK.