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African States Called to Back Malaria Vax

FILE - In this photo, a baby from the Malawi village of Tomali is injected with the world's first vaccine against malaria in a pilot program. Taken 12.11.2019

Nine months after the world's first malaria vaccine was recommended for use, international vaccine alliance Gavi invited countries to apply for financial support to roll out the jab, particularly targeting young children in Africa.

Gavi, which has $155.7 million available over 2022-2025 for the initial roll-out of the vaccine, has invited countries to apply for funding and support to distribute the shot.

The World Health Organization endorsed GSK Plc's four-dose Mosquirix shot in October last year, saying it could save thousands of lives.

Ghana, Kenya and Malawi - African nations that have been involved in pilot programs using the vaccine - can apply first, by September, to broaden their use of the shot. Other countries can apply by the end of this year, Gavi said in a statement.

It is a step forward for the vaccine, which has taken decades to develop. Malaria, on average, kills a child every minute.

However the roll-out is expected to start slowly, with supply falling far below the vast demand for several years, a recent Reuters investigation found.

"The work towards a malaria vaccine has been long and hard," said Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi. Alongside the existing interventions like bed nets, Berkley said he hoped that the new tool would now "allow us to save more lives in countries hit hardest by this killer disease."