UK malaria vaccine ready for deployment

A British-developed malaria vaccine is a step closer to gaining the permissions it needs for deployment in affected countries, it has been announced.

The R21/Matrix vaccine is the second to be developed against malaria in a joint project between the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India.

The Indian institute says it is already ready to produce 100 million doses a year. The two organisations have been working on the vaccine for 30 years.

The vaccine has now been awarded pre-qualification status by the World Health Organization. The process seeks to speed up national approvals of new treatments by undertaking key checks at global level.

Oxford professor of vaccinology Professor Sir Adrian Hill said: “Over 600,000 deaths mainly amongst children are caused by malaria each year.

“ The disease presents a uniquely difficult scientific challenge: the complex composition of malaria parasites with shape-shifting pathogen that has learned how to evade our immune system, has made the development of an effective vaccine a formidable task.”

Dr Kate O’Brien, WHO director of immunisation, said: “Today marks a huge stride in global health as we welcome the prequalification of R21/Matrix-M, the second malaria vaccine recommended for children in malaria endemic areas. This achievement underscores our relentless commitment to wiping out malaria which remains a formidable foe causing child suffering and death.”

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