Verum was making a greeting card for a friend from school. It was her friend’s birthday! So, Verum wanted to do something special for them. While making it, Verum was having a lot of fun. After all, there was a lot of glitter involved.
Suddenly, her crystal ball began spinning and glowing a vibrant shade of blue. Keeping the glittery greeting card aside, Verum rushed to her crystal ball. She said, “My crystal ball is glowing blue! That means vaccine news! Maybe a new Covid-19 vaccine. Or perhaps an update on the vaccination programs around the world.”
When Verum understood the news, it wasn’t what she expected. She called out to her friends, “Mysticals, Mysticals! Have you heard this? The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved widespread use of the world’s first malaria vaccine. It is called RTS,S.”
“Wow, that is big news,” exclaimed an overjoyed Orak, “Malaria is a disease caused by certain parasites. Parasites refer to plants and animals that live inside or on another organism called a host. It gets its food and protection from the host. The parasites that cause malaria are transmitted by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito.”
“This disease can be life-threatening. In fact, it took about 409,000 lives in 2019 with 229 million cases worldwide,” said Verum, “Most of these deaths take place in sub-Saharan Africa, meaning the countries that are located to the south of the Sahara desert. Children aged five years and less are the most vulnerable to malaria.”
“That’s why the development of this vaccine began in 1987,” said Verum, “GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a British company, developed the vaccine and later pilot-tested (a small scale initial study) it in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi. The study has kept a track of 800,000 children since 2019.”
“How effective is the vaccine, Verum?” said Orak.
“Well, it is only 30% effective and requires four doses. Moreover, it fades within months,” said Verum, “But even this little protection will be a great help for countries with high malaria cases.”
“That’s true,” agreed Orak.