Second malaria vaccine brings significant advance in scale
5 Oct 2023
The development of a second effective malaria vaccine has been hailed as a significant step forward in the battle to combat the disease.
Developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, the R21 vaccine is the second to be recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The RTS,S vaccine pioneered by drugs giant GSK preceded it by two years.
The WHO says both provide effective treatment for malaria, which affects an estimated 0.25 billion people annually and causes more than 0.6 million deaths, with three quarters of fatalities comprising the under-fives.
However, the R21 appears to offer significant gains in terms of cost and scale-up potential, with a price point estimated to be half that of its competitor. There is already a contract with the largest vaccine maker worldwide, the Serum Institute of India, to produce an annual 100 million does, with hopes to double this subsequently. In contrast, far fewer than 20 million does of RTS,S are available.
The news will be especially welcome among the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, where 95% of all cases occur and whose economies suffer a combined estimated loss of nearly £10 billion annually.