The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the second-ever vaccine against malaria, Reuters reports.
“Almost exactly two years ago, WHO recommended the broad use of the world’s first malaria vaccine called RTS,S,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO.
“Today, it gives me great pleasure to announce that WHO is recommending a second vaccine called R21/Matrix-M to prevent malaria in children at risk of the disease.”
The novel vaccine is a collaboration between the University of Oxford, which developed the R21 antigen (specific to the malaria parasite), and Novavax, which developed the Matrix-M, a saponin-based adjuvant responsible for boosting the immune response, Novavax explained in a press release.
Novavax is a member of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).
What makes the Novavax malaria vaccine different?
“This is the first recommendation from WHO to support the use of a vaccine containing Novavax’s Matrix-M adjuvant in children as young as five months of age. It is based on a review of evidence that included results from a Phase 3 clinical trial conducted in four African countries with 4,800 children aged 36 months to five years. These results were shared in a manuscript that was posted on Preprints with the Lancet, and is in review for publication under the peer review process,” said the press release.
Novavax’s adjuvant Matrix-M was used in the company’s COVID-19 vaccine. It’s currently being used in clinical and preclinical programs for developing vaccines for humans and animals.
The Serum Institute of India (SII) has received a license for the adjuvant. It has already begun production, with around 20 million doses in stock.
“Sadly, the demand has been higher, a lot higher, than what was physically possible to be supplied by other manufacturers. So, the good news is that we have, now, another option for countries,” SII CEO Adar Poonawalla told Yahoo Finance.
SII is expected to manufacture and distribute close to 200 million vaccine doses in the following two years.