Malaria is a potentially fatal disease that is transmitted to people by certain species of mosquitoes. On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested using a second malaria vaccine to control the disease.
“Almost exactly two years ago, WHO recommended the broad use of a malaria vaccine called RTS,S,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing in Geneva. RTS, S was the world’s first vaccine against malaria.
“Today, it gives me great pleasure to announce that the World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending a second vaccine called R21/Matrix-M to prevent malaria in children who are at risk of contracting the disease.”
According to Tedros, R21/Matrix-M, created by the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, would become commercially accessible by the middle of 2024. He also added that each dosage will cost between $2 and $4.
Tedros said, “WHO is currently reviewing the vaccine for prequalification, which is the WHO stamp of approval and will enable GAVI (a global vaccine alliance) and UNICEF to buy the vaccine directly from the manufacturers.”
The Serum Institute of India is responsible for the bulk production of 20 MILLION DOSES of R21/Matrix-M, which utilizes Novavax’s Matrix M adjuvant.
According to Adar Poonawalla, the Chief Executive Officer of the Serum Institute of India, the company has already manufactured more than 20 million doses in preparation for the WHO’s recommendation.
In an interview, he stated: “We will ramp it up according to what the demand requirements are.” “We hope that by the end of 2024, there will be zero mismatch between demand and supply, with our supply coming into the system.”
The vaccine will compete against the RTS, S shot manufactured by GSK Plc (GSK.L) and marketed as Mosquirix. This vaccination was recommended by a United Nations agency in 2021 and is now available for purchase.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), both vaccinations had demonstrated equivalent efficacy in independent clinical studies; however, because there was no direct comparison between the two vaccines, there was no data to establish which one worked better.
The agency has given the nations the authority to choose which product to employ depending on various considerations, such as the availability and cost of the commodity.
“GSK has always recognized the need for a second malaria vaccine,” the pharmaceutical company stated. “However, it is increasingly evident that RTS,S, the first ever malaria vaccine and the first ever vaccine against a human parasite, set a strong benchmark.”
The business also stated that more than 1.7 million children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi have gotten at least one dosage of the injection and that it will be rolled out in an additional nine malaria-endemic nations beginning at the beginning of the next year.
Over 600,000 people are lost to malaria each year, most of whom are youngsters living in Africa.
VACCINE FOR DENGUE
Tedros noted that the agency had also recommended the dengue vaccine Qdenga made by Takeda Pharmaceuticals (4502.T) for children aged 6 to 16 in regions where the virus is a severe concern for the public’s health.
The virus that causes dengue fever is transmitted from person to person by the bite of an infected mosquito. The disease is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions.
Hanna Nohynek, chair of the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, explained to journalists that Takeda’s vaccine demonstrated efficacy in clinical trials against all four virus serotypes in individuals with a previous dengue infection. Takeda provided this information.
She said that despite this, there was still some doubt about how well it would work against serotypes 3 and 4 in persons who had never been infected with the virus.
It was also proposed by the strategic advisory group of the WHO that a streamlined single-dose regime for primary immunization be used for most COVID-19 vaccines. This was done to increase the injections’ acceptability at a period when most individuals have already experienced at least one previous illness.
Given that monovalent vaccinations that target the XBB.1.5 strain, which has been predominant in many regions this year, are unavailable in many countries, the FDA said that any monovalent or bivalent vaccine might be used.