2nd October, 2023
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended on Monday the use of a second malaria vaccine called R21/Matrix-M.
Developed by Britain’s University of Oxford, the new vaccine will become available to countries by mid-2024, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tedros said.
He said that doses would cost between $2 and $4 and is expected to curb the life-threatening disease spread to humans by some mosquitoes.
“Almost exactly two years ago, W.H.O. recommended the broad use of the world’s first malaria vaccine called RTS,S,” Tedros told a briefing in Geneva.
“Today, it gives me great pleasure to announce that WHO is recommending a second vaccine called R21/Matrix-M to prevent malaria in children at risk of the disease.”
“WHO is now reviewing the vaccine for prequalification, which is WHO stamp of approval, and will enable GAVI (a global vaccine alliance) and UNICEF to buy the vaccine from manufacturers,” Tedros said.
R21/Matrix-M is mass manufactured by Serum Institute of India and uses Novavax’s Matrix M adjuvant.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, said it had already produced more than 20 million doses in anticipation of WHO’s recommendation.
The vaccine will compete against the RTS,S shot by GSK plc (GSK.L), which was recommended by the United Nations-agency in 2021 and sold under the brand Mosquirix.
The WHO said both vaccines had shown similar efficacy in separate trials, but as there had been no head-to-head trial there was no evidence showing whether one performed better.