WHO: COVID disruption lead to 63,000 more malaria deaths
In a recent report, the WHO reports that 63,000 additional deaths due to malaria were linked to disruptions in the provision of the disease’s prevention.
The coronavirus pandemic disrupted attempts to eradicate malaria, leading to an additional 63,000 fatalities and 13 million infections globally over a two-year period, as per a report from the World Health Organization.
According to the UN, the number of cases of parasitic disease increased in 2020 and did so again in 2021, albeit more slowly. The health organization said that Africa accounted for about 95% of the world's 247 million malaria cases and 619,000 deaths in 2017.
On this issue, a senior official in WHO’s malaria department Abdisalan Noor said, “We were off track before the pandemic and the pandemic has now made things worse.”
Even before COVID-19, according to Alister Craig, dean of biological sciences at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, progress in lowering malaria mortality had stagnated. “It is almost as if we have reached a limit of effectiveness for the tools we have now,” said Lister as reported by The Independent.
If enough children are immunized, Noor predicted that the world's first authorized malaria vaccine will have a "considerable impact" on lowering the number of severe illnesses and fatalities.
He also mentioned that more than 20 countries have applied to the vaccines alliance Gavi for assistance in obtaining the shot. The vaccination still needs four doses and has a 30% efficacy rate.
It is worth noting that a new invasive mosquito species that thrive in urban areas, is immune to many insecticides, and may erase years of malaria progress has also drawn the attention of officials.
Although the insects are probably to blame for a recent surge in malaria cases in some areas of the Horn of Africa, Noor said the invasive species has not yet made a substantial contribution to the continent's total malaria burden.
On his account, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine David Schellenberg said “there were promising new tools and strategies to tackle malaria, but that the elephant in the room is the level of funding.”
WHO calculated that the $3.5 billion total investment in malaria was less than half of what was required to significantly lessen its effects.
It is worth noting that scientists have been searching for a good malaria vaccine for nearly a century, with the first clinical trial taking place in the 1940s.
Every year, the disease kills hundreds of thousands of people, the majority of whom are children under the age of five in Africa.