Second malaria vaccine gets WHO green light paving the way for global roll-out

A child receives a vaccine against malaria.
A child receives a vaccine against malaria. Copyright University of Oxford
By Euronews
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This is the second malaria vaccine to be recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).


A new vaccine against malaria has been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), paving the way for a roll-out in areas where children die from the disease every day.

The R21/Matrix-M vaccine, developed by researchers at the University of Oxford, was found to be safe and effective in preventing malaria in children, the agency said.

Nearly half a million children die from Malaria, which is spread by mosquitoes, yearly.

The new R21 vaccine was shown to reduce symptomatic cases of malaria by 75 per cent in the year following a 3-dose series. A fourth dose given a year later maintained high efficacy, WHO said.

The first malaria vaccine, the RTS,S vaccine (called Mosquirix), was recommended in 2021 following results from a pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi. Its efficacy has been shown to wane over time.

"As a malaria researcher, I used to dream of the day we would have a safe and effective vaccine against malaria. Now we have two," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, in a statement.

"Demand for the RTS,S vaccine far exceeds supply, so this second vaccine is a vital additional tool to protect more children faster, and to bring us closer to our vision of a malaria-free future".

'Vaccine could save lives'

At least 28 African countries plan to introduce this latest malaria vaccine in immunisation programmes, according to WHO. The rollout of both vaccines is expected next year as well.

The R21 malaria vaccine is also cost-effective, WHO said, with a price tag of $2 to $4 (€1.90 to €3.80).

"The vaccine is easily deployable, cost-effective and affordable, ready for distribution in areas where it is needed most, with the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives a year," said Adrian Hill, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford.

The Serum Institute of India has a production capacity of 100 million doses per year, which will be doubled over the next two years, a statement from the University of Oxford said.

"In combination with public health measures such as the use of insecticide-treated bed nets, this vaccine can help save and improve the lives of millions of children and their families," a statement from the university said.

Experts told the Associated Press that this vaccine would not end the fight against malaria, but that it could be added to the arsenal of tools to fight malaria to protect more children.

The phase III clinical trial included 4,800 children across Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, and Tanzania.

In 2021, there were an estimated 247 million cases of malaria globally, with African countries home to 95 per cent of cases and 96 per cent of deaths.

Children under 5 account for 80 per cent of all malaria deaths in the African region, WHO said.

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