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GSK awarded UNICEF contract for malaria vaccine

Published on 19/08/22 at 10:41am

In 2020, nearly half a million children died from malaria in Africa alone, a rate of one child death per minute

 

GSK has been awarded a contract by UNICEF for the first-ever supply of a malaria vaccine, with a value of up to $170m.

 

The landmark award will lead to 18 million doses of the vaccine being available over the next three years, potentially saving thousands of lives every year, UNICEF reported.

 

In 2020, nearly half a million children died from malaria in Africa alone, a rate of one child death per minute. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 30 countries have areas with ‘moderate-to-high’ malaria transmission, where the vaccine could give added protection against malaria to over 25 million children each year.

 

The RTS,S malaria vaccine is the first-ever vaccine against a parasitic disease, acting against Plasmodium falciparum – the most deadly malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa.

 

Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said: "This vaccine rollout gives a clear message to malaria vaccine developers to continue their work because malaria vaccines are needed and wanted…This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

 

GSK’s vaccine was first approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2015, but there were concerns over the vaccine’s efficacy, which reached 50% in clinical trials against severe malaria after the first year, but fell in subsequent years.

 

In 2019 however, a WHO pilot routine was launched in three countries – Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – with the experience and evidence generated informing WHO’s recommendation of RTS,S in October 2021 for widespread use of the vaccine in countries with moderate-to-high Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission.

Emily Kimber

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