New Malaria Vaccine Shipments Begin

R21/Matrix-MTM vaccine availability begins in Africa in 2024
Malaria vaccine
by Jacqueline Macou
Gaithersburg (Precision Vaccinations News)

With the World Health Organization (WHO) 's recent Prequalification, a second malaria vaccine may soon become available in various countries.

The WHO estimates that the demand for malaria vaccines will be 40–60 million doses annually by 2026.

On May 20, 2024, Novavax, Inc. announced the first shipment of the R21/Matrix-M™ malaria vaccine by its partner, Serum Institute of India (SII), to African countries with a high incidence of malaria, which is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

The shipment was announced during a ceremony held at SII's headquarters in Pune, India, attended by the Hon. Eric Garcetti, U.S. Ambassador to India; Mr. Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII; Silvia Taylor, EVP, Chief Corporate Affairs & Advocacy Officer of Novavax; and other dignitaries. 

Dr. Umesh Shaligram, Executive Director of R&D at SII, commented in a press release, "The commencement of the R21/Matrix-M™ Malaria Vaccine distribution to Africa represents a groundbreaking advancement in our mission to combat health inequalities worldwide."

"At the SII, we are incredibly proud to collaborate with our esteemed partners, Novavax and the University of Oxford, as well as Gavi, UNICEF, and the WHO, to make this life-saving vaccine accessible and affordable to those who need it most."

"By delivering this vaccine to the frontlines, we are not only protecting individuals but also empowering communities and paving the way for a brighter, malaria-free future."

Created by the Jenner Institute of Oxford University and developed by SII, the R21/Matrix-M vaccine contains two key ingredients: the malaria-specific R21 antigen and Novavax's saponin-based Matrix-M adjuvant to enhance the immune system response, increasing the magnitude and durability of the antibody response. 

Phase 3 clinical trial results demonstrating safety and efficacy against clinical malaria in children were published in The Lancet in February 2024.

Of confirmed malaria cases in the United States, 59% were among persons who had traveled from Africa.

In the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization estimated that approximately 41 million people live in areas where the risk of infection by mosquitoes infected with malaria is moderate to high.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most malaria cases confirmed in 2024 are in cities such as Miami, Florida, Los Angeles, California, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

As of May 20, 2024, the U.S. FDA had not approved either malaria vaccine.

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