Ghana Becomes the First Country in the World to Approve Oxford Malaria Vaccine

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Ghana Becomes the First Country in the World to Approve Malaria Vaccine R21/Matrix-M

Medical Health Education Blog | Healthy Living | Malaria Disease Treatment, Prevention and Cure

Ghana | Oxford Malaria Vaccine R21/Matrix-M | Successful larger phase-three trial | Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Malawi and Tanzania | WHO, UNICEF & GAVI

Image credit: newsroom.uw.edu. Malaria vaccine R21/Matrix-M: Image of a fictitious malaria vaccine and a string for vaccination.

Ghana Goes Ahead of Other Rich Nations to Become the First Country in the World to Approve Oxford Malaria Vaccine R21/Matrix-M

Ghana, a West African country, has become the first country in the world to approve a new malaria vaccine R21/Matrix-M developed by Oxford University in Eduonwheels’ Medical Health News post of today, Saturday, April 15, 2023.

While those results await publication in a public medical journal in the coming months as the World Health Organization finishes its own assessment, Ghana has gone ahead of other countries in the world to approve the Malaria Vaccine.

Professor Adrian Hill, The Oxford University Head of the R21 Programme at the Jenner Institute, has said that Ghana has approved R21/Matrix-M for children aged five months to 36 months – the highest risk category. Professor Adrian Hill has also hinted that it is the first time a major vaccine of a deadly disease is being approved in an African country ahead of rich nations, according to the Medical Health News report in Malaria Vaccine.

The High Level of Effectiveness Showed in the Trial Results Spurs Ghana into Approving the Mass Production of 200 million Annual doses

The Ghanaian drug authorities have now signed off on the vaccine after seeing results of a larger phase-three trial involving 4,800 children in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali and Tanzania and a deal for mass production of up to 200 million annual doses has also been agreed upon with the Serum Institute of India.

The sign-off is said to be the first time a major vaccine has been approved in an African country ahead of rich nations – and it could end up saving countless lives.

However, it is not yet known when the West African country will begin rolling out the vaccine.

Approval of Malaria Vaccine by WHO

The World Health Organization is currently working on finishing its own assessment for possible approval of the Malaria Vaccine R21/Matrix-M

If the WHO approves the Oxford Malaria Vaccine R21/Matrix-M international organizations, such as UNICEF and the vaccine alliance GAVI could fund millions of doses for the most vulnerable people including children and pregnant women.

The first malaria vaccine, Mosquirix, by UK drugs giant GSK, was approved by the WHO last year but its rollout has been limited by commercial potential and a lack of funding.

Malaria Vaccine in Africa – The Situation with Roll out and Vaccinations

Are the malaria vaccines widely rolled out and distributed in Africa as required? After getting the WHO’s required approval, the GSK has promised to make up to 15 million doses per year until 2028, but it’s far short of the 100 million or so doses the WHO says are needed to cover 25 million children.

In terms of vaccination, around 1.2 million children in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi have had at least one dose of Mosquirix as part of a pilot that began in 2019, so far.

How Effective Is the Malaria Vaccine R21/Matrix-M in Africa?

The malaria vaccine has been regarded as a ‘game changer’ in medical health innovation in recent times. So the question is: ‘’How effective are the malaria vaccines?’’

R21/Matrix-M was shown to be up to 80% effective in a trial involving 400 children in Burkina Faso, published in September. The vaccine has been administered in trials as three doses four weeks apart and a booster a year later.

Professor Hill has also said that the larger phase-three trial showed high levels of effectiveness and a reassured safety profile – the result of which appears to have given Ghana the confidence to approve R21/Matrix-M.

In the areas where it has been administered, the WHO says all-cause child mortality has fallen by 10%.

How Deadly Has Malaria Disease Been in Africa?

Malaria has been a deadly disease globally for a long time now, not even just in Africa, even though the cases in Africa appear to be more than in any other region. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria ranks sixth among the top 10 causes of death by income group globally.

Malaria kills more than 600,000 people each year, most of them children in Africa, and the search for a vaccine has been going on for decades.

One child under the age of five dies from the mosquito-borne disease every 75 seconds, despite the use of bed nets, preventative drugs, and insecticide sprays.

What’s Next for Malaria Vaccine R21/Matrix-M?

What’s next for Malaria Vaccine R21/Matrix-M in Africa? Many African countries would be expected to show interest in the malaria vaccines in the near future especially once they receive approval from the WHO and the fund for commercial production becomes available for many drug production companies and African countries.

 

Image of R21 is being trialed in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali and Tanzania. Pic: Tom Wilkinson, University of Oxford via Sky News
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Malaria Vaccine R21//Matrix-M: Image of R21 is being trialed in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali and Tanzania. Pic: Tom Wilkinson, University of Oxford via Sky News

 

Video: Watch the Video of How the Malaria Vaccine is Saving African Children

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