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New Malaria Vaccine R21/Matrix-M

  • Context (TH | DTE): WHO added R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine to its list of prequalified vaccines.
  • The vaccine is developed by Oxford University and manufactured by Serum Institute of India.
  • It is the world’s second WHO-recommended malaria vaccine, after RTS,S/AS 01.
  • The new vaccine will be sold under the brand Mosquirix.
  • This vaccine is meant for children under the age of five years.
  • It has three primary doses and a booster shot after a year.
  • It is specific to Plasmodium falciparum. So, it cannot be used to prevent infections caused by other malaria parasites like Plasmodium vivax.
  • It uses the same adjuvant, Matrix M, as the COVID-19 vaccine, Novavax, a version of which was also rolled out by SII.
  • Adjuvant: A substance that is added to a vaccine to enhance the immune response to the vaccine.
  • Matrix M: It is a proprietary saponin-based adjuvant from Novavax, licensed to the SII for use in endemic countries, while Novavax retains commercial rights in non-endemic countries.

Benefits of the R21 Malaria Vaccine

  • High efficacy: It has an efficacy of 75% in areas with seasonal prevalence and 68% in areas where the disease circulates all year round.
  • Low cost: It is about half the price of RTS,S, the only other malaria vaccine available.
  • Mass production: Serum Institute of India has the potential to mass-produce it on a large scale.

Why Prequalification by WHO is Important?

  • WHO prequalification is the prerequisite for UNICEF procurement and funding support for Gavi deployment.
  • As part of prequalification, WHO assesses vaccines using international standards to ensure they are safe, effective, and manufactured to global standards.
  • It addresses the specific requirements of national immunisation programmes, including vaccine characteristics like potency, thermostability, presentation, labelling, and shipping conditions.

GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance

  • GAVI was established as a public-private Global Health Partnership in 2000.
  • Goal: Create equal access to new and underused vaccines for children in the world’s poorest countries.
  • Aims:
    • Accelerating access to vaccines
    • Strengthening countries’ health and immunisation systems
    • Introducing innovative new immunisation technology
  • The permanent seats are held by UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Representatives of other Gavi partners serve on a time-limited basis.

Details on Malaria and Malaria in India > Malaria, New Malaria Vaccine R21/MatrixM – PMF IAS

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