WHO’s Latest Development: Second Malaria Vaccine Gets The Nod


As the world observed World Malaria Day this year, the pressing need for a malaria vaccine became even more evident. The WHO called upon nations affected by this disease to expedite the implementation of effective tools and strategies for prevention, detection, and treatment. Pursuing highly efficient vaccines for combating human malaria remains a paramount public health imperative[1].

In context to this, on Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a groundbreaking recommendation for a new anti-malaria vaccine designed specifically for children. This significant development could give countries a more cost-effective and easily accessible alternative to the initial vaccine against this parasitic disease[2].

In association with the Serum Institute of India (SII), the Jenner Institute at Oxford University developed a new vaccine against malaria known as R-21 or Matrix-M. The WHO’s second recommendation builds upon its prior vaccine, the RTS, S/AS01, in 2021. Both vaccines have proven safe and effective in preventing malaria among children, and their wide-scale implementation is projected to impact public health substantially, claimed WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

According to WHO, Malaria significantly affects children in the African Region, with an annual death toll of nearly half a million young lives. In addition, Tedros exclaimed, “With a three-dose regime followed by a booster 12 months after the third dose, the vaccine has already been approved for early next year in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Nigeria. It will roll out in other countries in mid-2024, costing between $2 and $4.”

The Serum Institute of India(SII), the vaccine manufacturer, is poised to produce over 100 million doses annually, intending to ramp up production to 200 million doses yearly. At the same time, currently, only 18 million doses of RTS,S are available. The SII stated that Oxford researchers have reported a sustained 2-year efficacy for R21/Matrix-M™ and demonstrated that a booster dose maintains high efficacy against malaria, aligning with the World Health Organization’s Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap target of a vaccine with a minimum of 75 percent efficacy[2].

The objective behind a broad vaccine rollout is to reduce infection rates and the transmission of the disease substantially. Nonetheless, experts emphasize that vaccines should not be a substitute for other preventive measures like bed nets and insecticide spraying.

(The article is written by Dr.Subita Alagh, Senior Executive, and reviewed by Monalisa Deka, Senior Health Content Editor)

1. Home/News/WHO recommends R21/Matrix-M vaccine for malaria prevention in updated advice on immunization. As reported from: https://www.who.int/news/item/02-10-2023-who-recommends-r21-matrix-m-vaccine-for-malaria-prevention-in-updated-advice-on-immunization#:~:text=The%20World%20Health%20Organization%20
2. Draper SJ, Sack BK, King CR, et al. Malaria Vaccines: Recent Advances and New Horizons. Cell Host Microbe. 2018 Jul 11;24(1):43-56.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6054918/

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