The celebration that greeted the new anti malaria vaccine may be premature, an expert on tropical and travel diseases says.
“This vaccine does not deserve even to be mentioned, let alone discussing it since there is nothing in it to help in the prevention of malaria infections,” Professor Charles Chunge of the Centre for Tropical and Travel Diseases says in an interview.
Prof. Chunge reveals that the new anti malaria vaccine Mosquirix is not effective and its efficacy rate is only 50 percent, which is below 65 percent effective and efficacy rate recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for all vaccines.
He observes that the WHO is likely not to authorize or recommend its use worldwide.
He advises the public to continue preventing and controlling the spread of malaria by clearing bushes around their houses, destroying stagnant waters around their homes, sleep under insect treated bed-nets, spraying their houses with insecticides and that those who are already infected to seek proper and prompt treatment with currently available strong anti malarial drugs.
Malaria kills about 34,000 people in Kenya every year. Most of these deaths occur among children aged below five years and expectant mothers.
These figures are almost the same in other African countries within the malaria zones of Sub Saharan region.
It is these deaths from malaria and other vaccine preventable diseases that forced an institution like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to focus more on how to help fund African countries/governments to overcome challenges posed by diseases.
The foundation was involved through funding in the development of this new childhood vaccine brand named RTSS, which has been approved by the European Drug Regulators for use to prevent malaria infections among children aged six week to 17 months.
Malaria, according to experts is number one killer disease globally. This stubborn parasite and tropical disease does not have any known vaccines thus making Mosquirix vaccine the only vaccine against malaria.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) is yet to give the new vaccine a clean bill of health.
Malaria is caused by a parasite known as plasmodium falciparum from mosquito bites. Kenya is a malaria zone and at one time the disease or highland malaria killed 2000 people in Kisii, Nandi, Kericho, Bomet and around Mount Kenya region, Cherenganyi hills among others.
It is for this reason that the new vaccine was greeted with excitement. The vaccine underwent clinical trials and tests at Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) under lead researcher Dr. Benhards Ogutu.
And the Ministry of Health says the vaccine is likely to reduce malaria infection rates among children in Kenya by a bigger percentage.
While the manufacturer and the Ministry officials and medics pour praises on the new vaccine as a breakthrough in the war against malaria the chairman, Prof. Chunge faults the new vaccine Mosquirix.
Immunizations are tickets to good health given that vaccines are taken by healthy people to prevent or avoid infections. Lack of access to immunizations has caused untold sufferings and deaths from diseases, which could easily be prevented.