The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday welcomed vaccine alliance Gavi’s call for international financial support of nearly US$ 160 million to roll out the Malaria jab, particularly targeting young children in Africa, reported The Africa News.
Malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2020, nearly half a million African children died from malaria or 1 child died of malaria every minute, WHO said in a statement after the announcement in Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo.
The WHO endorsed the four-dose shot in October last year, saying it could save thousands of lives. The Gavi alliance has $155.7 million available over 2022-2025 for the initial vaccine rollout.
The GlaxoSmithKline-made vaccine, Mosquirix, is about 30% effective against Malaria. The WHO estimates that at least 100 million doses every year might be needed to protect the 25 million children born in Africa every year.
The malaria vaccine has “a much lower efficacy than we would like,” Philip Welkhoff, the Gates Foundation’s director of malaria programs, told the Associated Press (AP).
Explaining the Gates foundation’s decision to end support for the malaria vaccine rollout, he said the shot is relatively expensive and logistically challenging to deliver.
“If we’re trying to save as many lives with our existing funding, that cost-effectiveness matters,” he said.
Welkhoff of the Gates Foundation said all the money in the world would not alleviate the vaccine’s short-term supply constraints.
He noted that the Gates Foundation continues to support the Gavi vaccine alliance, which is investing nearly $156m into making the shot initially available in three African countries- Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.
Welkhoff added that the Gates foundation is supporting the roll-out via the Gavi funding and not dedicate additional direct funding to extend the supply of the vaccine.
The WHO and Gavi have invited developing countries to apply for funding to pay for the malaria vaccine in their countries.