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Malawi Rolls Out First Typhoid Vaccine Trial

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Golden being vaccinated at Ndirande Health Center- Golden being vaccinated at Ndirande Health Center- - Pic by Charity Chimungu Phiri

At exactly 10:13 am on Wednesday 21st February, 2018, four year-old Golden Kondowe became the first child in Malawi and in the Sub-Saharan region to be vaccinated with Typhoid conjugate vaccine.

Golden is a resident of Zingwangwa Township where the disease is highly prevalent according to researchers.

They say 100 out of 100, 000 people in Blantyre are affected by the disease every year.

“I wasn’t at all scared to have my child vaccinated; Typhoid is affecting a lot of people not only here in Malawi but the world over so we’re glad to be part of the solution,” said Christopher Kondowe, father to the boy.

Lead researcher Dr. Melita Gordon, a professor and associate of the Malawi Liverpool Welcome Trust says the trial is “a culmination of over 20 years of research focused on Salmonella disease in Malawi”.

She says the vaccine provides a “real option” to controlling the disease.

“There’s a new strain of Typhoid circulating in Malawi. It is more resistant to the antibiotics. One way of controlling the disease is through improved sanitation but this is very difficult to achieve in a short period of time which means the vaccine is our only real option,” she said.

One of the collaborators in the project, University of Maryland School of Medicine professor Matthew Laurens, said in a separate interview they would conduct follow-ups with the children in the trial.

“We need to demonstrate that this type of vaccine is not only safe in this population of children but also that it prevents typhoid disease. We will carefully follow these children for a period of over two and a half years not only for safety but also to ensure they do not contract the disease,” said Dr. Laurens.

At least 24, 000 children are targeted in the trial which will run for a period of six months.

Apart from the health centers, the vaccine will also be given to children in nursery and primary schools.

The trial is being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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