WHO to roll out malaria vaccine in Africa even as funding dips

by | Jul 21, 2022 | World

As the World Health Organization announces the next step in its distribution of the world’s first authorised malaria vaccine in three African countries, concerns about its value have come from an unlikely source: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, arguably the vaccine’s biggest backer.WHO endorsed the vaccine last fall as a “historic” breakthrough in the fight against malaria but the Gates Foundation told The Associated Press (AP) news agency this week it will no longer financially support the shot.
Some scientists say they are mystified by that decision, warning it could leave millions of African children at risk of dying from malaria as well as undermine future efforts to solve intractable problems in public health.
The vaccine, sold by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as Mosquirix, is about 30-percent effective and requires four doses.
The malaria vaccine has “a much lower efficacy than we would like,” Philip Welkhoff, the Gates Foundation’s director of malaria programmes, told the AP.
Explaining its decision to end support after spending more than $200m and several decades getting the vaccine to market, 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.
The Gates Foundation’s decision to pivot away from supporting the rollout of the vaccine in Africa was made years ago after detailed deliberations, including whether the foundation’s money would …

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