Study: A malaria vaccine is up to 78% effective in young children

A malaria vaccine developed with the help of British researchers at Oxford University is up to 78% effective in young children, new data from a recent study suggests.

Malaria is the leading cause of death in young children in Africa

Last year, the R21/Matrix-M vaccine was recommended for use by the World Health Organization (WHO). The new data obtained from a phase 3 study conducted on children in Africa confirmed that the vaccine is effective and safe, writes Agerpres.

Researchers immunized more than 4,800 young children in a study conducted in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali and Tanzania and found, on average, an effectiveness of 78% in children between the ages of five and 17 months during the first year.

Experts claim that, until now, no other vaccine has shown an effectiveness of more than 55% in the same age group.

According to the results, published in the scientific journal The Lancet, a booster dose given at one year maintained its effectiveness for the next six to 12 months.

Overall effectiveness was between 68% and 75% in children aged five to 36 months.

So far, 25 million doses have been produced and are being prepared for implementation by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in the next three to four months.

Malaria is the leading cause of death among young children in Africa, accounting for 600,000 deaths annually.

Two vaccines have recently obtained and completed WHO pre-qualification trials, and their initial deployments will begin early this year.

Professor Adrian Hill, Principal Investigator of the phase 3 R21/Matrix-M study said: “The continued high efficacy of this new vaccine in field trials is very encouraging and is consistent with the high level of efficacy and excellent durability seen in a smaller four-year phase 2b study.”

Audrey Duncanson, manager at the British Wellcome foundation focused on health research, emphasized, for her part, that malaria “remains a huge global health risk for nearly half the world's population”. She stated that the burden of this disease, predominantly in African countries, causes “about 600,000 deaths in children under the age of five”.

The results of this recent phase 3 trial of the R21 malaria vaccine show huge potential for a transformative impact on childhood malaria. This is an important step towards obtaining a highly effective, safe, easily accessible and affordable vaccine to protect children from malaria in African countries.” Duncanson said.

The vaccine has an affordable price, a dose costs between 2 and 4 dollars, according to DPA/PA Media.

At least 28 African countries intend to introduce a vaccine recommended by the WHO as part of their national population immunization programs against malaria.

The Matrix-M adjuvanted vaccine is manufactured by Novavax AB and supplied to SII to be formulated into the final vaccine pharmaceutical product.

An adjuvant is an ingredient used in some vaccines to enhance the body's immune response.