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WHO defends Nigeria, Ghana’s approval of Oxford malaria vaccine

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An official from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Africa office, Phionah Atuhebwe, said on Thursday that Ghana and Nigeria had not “jumped the gun” in approving Oxford University’s R21 malaria vaccine before clinical trials are complete.

The two countries’ provisional approval of the vaccine this month is unusual as the WHO is still assessing its safety and effectiveness.

The mosquito-borne disease kills more than 600,000 people each year, most of them children in Africa.

“A provisional approval of the R21 malaria vaccine was recommended, and this shall be done in line with the WHO’s malaria vaccine implementation guideline,” NAFDAC said in a statement.

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Malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, kills more than 600,000 people each year, most of them African babies and children.

Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation, is the world’s worst-affected country, with 27 percent of global cases and 32 percent of global deaths, according to a 2021 World Health Organization (WHO) report.

It was unclear when the R21 vaccine may be rolled out in Nigeria or Ghana, as other regulatory bodies, including the WHO, are still assessing its safety and effectiveness.

Childhood vaccines in the poorest parts of Africa are typically co-funded by international organizations such as Gavi, the vaccine alliance, only after getting WHO approval.

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