New Malaria Vaccine Takes Orders

R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine is approved
Malaria vaccines April 2023
by Adrian P.
Africa (Precision Vaccinations)

Two African nations became the first countries to approve the new R21/Matrix-M™ malaria vaccine, developed at Oxford University, includes Novavax's world-class adjuvant, and is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), Pvt. Ltd. 

This year, Ghana and Nigeria preempted the World Health Organization (WHO) process and issued their approvals. And about ten other African countries may issue their approvals soon.

This innovative malaria vaccine is in demand but in limited supply.

According to VOA Africa News on April 21, 2023, about 20 million vaccine doses could be available in 2023.

"We expect many more countries to come through," Mary Hamel, the WHO's malaria vaccine implementation head, told the expert meeting on April 18, 2023. "They are sovereign countries that can make their own vaccine decisions."

Since malaria transmission occurs in 85 countries across five WHO regions, demand for R21/Matrix-M could be overwhelming.

SII Chief Executive Adar Poonawalla informed Reuters his company would produce 20 million doses "at-risk" in the next two months. That statement indicates SII may not yet have confirmed purchase agreements in place.

"We are committed to making the R21 vaccine available to people who need it most," Poonawalla stated.

Two of the largest buyers of vaccines, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and UNICEF, are waiting for WHO's approval before funding purchases.

The WHO recently confirmed that it had begun its assessment, which can take months.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters the review process would be expedited. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of U.S. residents travel to countries where malaria is present. And about 2,000 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the U.S. annually, mostly in returned travelers.

Based on recent news, malaria cases could soon increase in the U.S.

A favorite vacation destination, Costa Rica, has confirmed 105 malaria cases in the Huerta Caribe region in 2023.

As of April 24, 2023, there is no U.S. FDA-licensed malaria vaccine.

However, the FDA has approved Artesunate to treat severe malaria in adult and pediatric patients.