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Business News/ Global / SII sends first batch of malaria vaccine to Africa
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SII sends first batch of malaria vaccine to Africa

The burden of malaria is the heaviest in Africa, according to general medical journal Lancet. In 2022, 94% of the 249 million global malaria cases and 95% of 608,000 malaria-related deaths occurred in Africa, and more than three-quarters of the deaths occurred in children younger than 5 years.

(Left to right) Natasha Poonawalla, executive director, SII and Chairperson, Villoo Poonawalla Foundation; Adar Poonawalla, CEO, SII; and Eric Garcetti, US Ambassador to India, at the launch of R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccinePremium
(Left to right) Natasha Poonawalla, executive director, SII and Chairperson, Villoo Poonawalla Foundation; Adar Poonawalla, CEO, SII; and Eric Garcetti, US Ambassador to India, at the launch of R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine

New Delhi: Pune based Serum Institute of India (SII) has dispatched the first consignment of malaria vaccines to Africa, the company said in a statement on Monday.

Named R21/Matrix-M, the malaria vaccine has been developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the US-based biotechnology firm Novavax’s Matrix-M adjuvant (a medicine that increases or modifies the activity of other ingredients in a medicine, especially vaccines). It is the second malaria vaccine to be authorized by the World Health Organization for use in children in malaria-endemic regions.

The initial shipment is being sent to the Central African Republic (CAR), with other African countries such as South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo set to receive the vaccines in the next few days. In total, 163,800 doses of the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine have been allocated for CAR, out of which 43,200 doses were dispatched on 20 May.

Also Read: World Malaria Day 2024: 7 things you don't know about the disease

“The shipment of the R21/Matrix-M Malaria Vaccine to Africa marks a momentous milestone in our collective fight against this life-threatening disease," added Dr Umesh Shaligram, executive director - R&D, Serum Institute of India

The burden of malaria is the heaviest in Africa, according to general medical journal Lancet. In 2022, 94% of the 249 million global malaria cases and 95% of 608,000 malaria-related deaths occurred in Africa, and more than three-quarters of the deaths occurred in children younger than 5 years. 

In the face of such a major health challenge, WHO, through its Accelerated Malaria Vaccines Introduction and Rollout in Africa (AMVIRA) initiative, plans to introduce the Plasmodium falciparum RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) and R21/Matrix-M (R21) vaccines into routine immunisation schedules for children from the age of five months in 19 African countries. The first country to introduce the routine vaccination programme was Cameroon in January, 2024.

Also Read: Mint Primer: Malaria gets its second vax: Why it’s momentous

Till date, Serum Institute of India has manufactured 25 million doses of vaccines, and it has the capacity to produce up to 100 million doses annually.

"The R21/Matrix-M vaccine is a vital new tool to help stop the devastating health and economic impact of malaria on nearly half of the world’s population, including the tragic loss of 1,300 children every single day," said John C. Jacobs, president and chief executive officer, Novavax.

The R21/Matrix-M vaccine had received WHO's recommendation for use among children in October 2023, followed by the announcement of its high efficacy of its Phase 3 Trial data results this year. This achievement has paved the way for the vaccination of children in populations most at risk.

Also Read: R21/Matrix-M: WHO recommends Malaria vaccine made by Oxford and Serum Institute of India

“R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine marks the culmination of 30 years of malaria vaccine research at the University of Oxford's Jenner Institute. The vaccine is easily deployable, cost effective and affordable, and has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives a year. This is important as vaccinating those at high risk of malaria will be important in stemming the spread of the disease, as well as protecting the vaccinated," SII said in a statement.

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Published: 20 May 2024, 05:35 PM IST
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