New Delhi: A University of Oxford developed and Serum Institute of India (SII) manufactured and scaled up “high efficacy” malaria vaccine has been licensed for use in Ghana by Africa’s Food and Drugs Authority, the university announced here on Thursday.
The R21/Matrix-M vaccine, leveraging Novavax’s adjuvant technology, has been approved for use in children aged 5 to 36 months – the age group at the highest risk of death from malaria. It marks the first regulatory clearance for the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine for use in any country.
“This marks a culmination of 30 years of malaria vaccine research at Oxford with the design and provision of a high efficacy vaccine that can be supplied at adequate scale to the countries who need it most,” said Professor Adrian Hill, Chief investigator of the programme and Director of the Oxford University’s Jenner Institute at the Nuffield Department of Medicine.
“As with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, our partnership with the Serum Institute of India has been key to successful very large-scale manufacturing and rapid development,” he said.
The R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine is a low-dose vaccine that can be manufactured at a mass scale and modest cost, enabling as many as hundreds of millions of doses to be supplied to African countries which are suffering a significant malaria burden.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable populations in our society and remains a leading cause of death in childhood. Developing a vaccine to greatly impact this huge disease burden has been extraordinarily difficult, said Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India.
The licensure of the R21/Matrix-M Malaria Vaccine for use in Ghana is a significant milestone in our efforts to combat malaria around the world. We remain steadfast in our commitment to scaling up production of the vaccine to meet the needs of countries with high malaria burden and to support global efforts towards saving lives, he said.
The R21/Matrix-M vaccine was initially designed and developed at the University of Oxford and has undergone clinical trials in the UK, Thailand, and several African countries, including an ongoing Phase III trial in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali and Tanzania that has enrolled 4,800 children. Results from these trials are expected to be reported later this year.
The vaccine contains Novavax’s Matrix-M, a saponin-based adjuvant that enhances the immune system response, making it more potent and more durable. The Matrix-M adjuvant stimulates the entry of antigen-presenting cells at the injection site and enhances antigen presentation in local lymph nodes. This technology has also been used in Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine and is a key component of other development-stage vaccines.
John C Jacobs, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novavax said: “We’re thrilled that Novavax’s Matrix-M™ adjuvant has contributed to the success of this promising and much-needed malaria vaccine.
It is our intention to unlock the potential of our adjuvant, both in the near term and over time, to continue to improve public health.
Meanwhile, SII is said to have already established potential manufacturing capacities of more than 200 million doses annually. The scientists behind the project see this as a critical step towards reducing over half a million malaria-related deaths annually and improving the health outcomes of millions of people in Africa and beyond.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.