The development of first malaria vaccine is a significant step forward in the fight against malaria

In October, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised that children in Sub-Saharan Africa and other places with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission receive the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine. The recombinant protein vaccine, known as Mosquirix, was found to prevent 39% of instances of malaria, 29% of cases of severe malaria, and to reduce overall hospital admissions. 

In 2020, there were around 241 million malaria cases worldwide, with Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Mozambique, Angola, and Burkina Faso accounting for nearly 55% of all cases. 

The WHO South-East Asia Region bore around 2% of the burden, with India accounting for 83% of the cases in the region. Despite the high burden, the WHO reports that India has seen a significant drop in malaria incidence and deaths. 

Malaria deaths have steadily decreased over time, from 896000 in 2000 to 558000 in 2019. However, due to service interruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, malaria mortality increased by 12% in 2020 compared to 2019. 

WHO has now certified 40 nations and territories as malaria-free, including China, El Salvador, Argentina, and Uzbekistan, which were recently added to the list. 

When a female Anopheles mosquito bites a person, Plasmodium parasites are injected into our system. The parasite enters the liver swiftly as sporozoites and multiplies into merozoites over 7 to 10 days. They are released from liver cells, and once in the bloodstream, they infect red blood cells, resulting in fever and other symptoms. 

Malaria vaccines are categorized according to whatever stage of the parasite lifecycle they target. The RTS, S vaccine inhibits parasites from invading liver cells by targeting the circumsporozoite protein on the sporozoite surface. 

Two parasite protein components were expressed in genetically altered Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast cells and combined with an adjuvant to create the novel vaccine. An adjuvant aids in the development of greater immunological response. 

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