WHO backs UK-backed malaria vaccine

WHO backs UK-backed malaria vaccine

The World Health Organisation has recommended a cheap malaria vaccine developed with the help of UK scientists that can be produced on a massive scale.

R21/Matrix-M has been developed by the University of Oxford in collaboration with the Serum Institute of India and costs between $2 and $4 per dose.

It has undergone clinical trials in the UK, Thailand and several African nations and was first approved for use in Ghana in April.

Following advice from the body's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization and the Malaria Policy Advisory Group, it has now been backed by the WHO.

It is the second mosquito vaccine recommended by WHO and follows the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine, which was given the green light in 2021 by the WHO.

In the UK, around 500,000 children die of malaria each year.

The WHO said both vaccines 'are safe and effective in preventing malaria in children' and are expected to have a 'high public health impact'.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general, said the demand for RTS,S/AS01 has been 'unprecedented'.

Another excellent example of the tremendous power of UK-backed research and development.

By adding a second malaria vaccine to our arsenal, we will be able to extend the reach of this vital preventative tool to thousands more children and avert further unacceptable and preventable deaths.

However, it is vital that both malaria vaccines have the funding, support, and pathways required to reach children as quickly and effectively as possible.

The R21/Matrix-M vaccine will now require WHO prequalification to enable global purchasing of the drug for a broader rollout.

At least 28 countries in Africa plan to institute a WHO-recommended malaria jab as a part of their national immunisation programs.