An Oxford Vaccine Shows 77% Efficacy in Early Trials Against Malaria

An Oxford Vaccine Shows 77% Efficacy in Early Trials Against Malaria

Scientists in the UK have developed the world’s most effective malaria vaccine with 77 percent efficacy against the disease.

Researchers at the Jenner Institute of Oxford University and their partners, said findings from a phase IIb trial of R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine, demonstrated high-level efficacy of 77 percent.

The most effective malaria vaccine to date had only shown 55% efficacy in trials on African children.

Malaria kills more than 400,000 people a year, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa. But despite many vaccines being trialled over the years, none has met the required target for success.

The researchers say the vaccine could have a major public health impact.

When trialled in 450 children in Burkina Faso, the vaccine was found to be safe, and showed “high-level efficacy” over 12 months of follow-up.

Larger trials in nearly 5,000 children between the ages of five months and three years will now be carried out across four African countries, to confirm the findings.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through mosquito bites. Although preventable and curable, the World Health Organization estimates there were 229 million cases worldwide in 2019 and 409,000 deaths.

Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute and professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said trials of this malaria vaccine started in 2019, long before coronavirus appeared – and the Oxford team developed its Covid vaccine on the strength of its research into malaria.

He said a malaria vaccine had taken much longer to come to fruition because there are thousands of genes in malaria compared to around a dozen in coronavirus, and a very high immune response is needed to fight off the disease.

Prof Charlemagne Ouédraogo, minister of health in Burkina Faso, said malaria was one of the leading causes of childhood mortality in Africa.

“These new data show that licensure of a very useful new malaria vaccine could well happen in the coming years.

“That would be an extremely important new tool for controlling malaria and saving many lives.”

The Serum Institute of India, which has manufactured the vaccine, says it is confident of delivering more than 200 million doses of the vaccine as soon as it is approved by regulators.

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