As the world races towards ending the malaria scourge, the World Health Organization (WHO) has pre-qualified yet another malaria vaccine – the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine.
In a statement, the global health body noted this makes it the second malaria vaccine to be pre-qualified.
It further disclosed that in October 2023, it recommended its use for the prevention of malaria in children, following the advice of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization and the Malaria Policy Advisory.
Lafiya360 reports that the WHO explained that the prequalification of a new malaria vaccine opens up a large window of access to vaccines, as they are very critical tools to prevent malaria in children. The prequalification also opens up the procurement channel by UNICEF, and funding support for deployment by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
WHO stated that the world’s second malaria vaccine was developed by Oxford University and manufactured by Serum Institute of India.
The Director of the Department of Regulation and Prequalification, WHO, Dr.R21 malaria vaccine Rogério Gaspar, said, “Achieving WHO vaccine prequalification ensures that vaccines used in global immunization programmes are safe and effective within their conditions of use in the targeted health systems.”
Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, Dr Kate O’Brien, said, “This achievement underscores our relentless commitment to wiping out malaria which remains a formidable foe causing child suffering and death.”
Malaria is a disease caused by a plasmodium parasite, and transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The severity of malaria varies based on the species of plasmodium. In Nigeria, there are more than 1.5 million cases annually.