Ghana Becomes First Country to Approve Use of Malaria Vaccine

 

A groundbreaking malaria vaccine developed by Britain’s Oxford University is set to be used in Ghana for the first time, marking the first time it has received regulatory approval anywhere in the world.

Professor Adrian Hill, director of the university’s Jenner Institute and chief investigator of the R21/Matrix-M vaccine programme, said it marked the “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 that need it most.”

 

According to the international research team, the vaccine could be a game changer in the fight against the mosquito-borne parasitic disease that is responsible for the deaths of 627,000 people, mostly African children, in 2020 alone.

“The vaccine has been approved for use in children aged 5-36 months, the age group at highest risk of death from malaria,” Oxford university said in a statement.

“It is hoped that this first crucial step will enable the vaccine to help Ghanaian and African children to effectively combat malaria,” it added.

 

Oxford announced in September that a booster dose of the new malaria vaccine maintained a high level of protection against the disease, expressing hope that the low-cost injection could be mass-produced in a matter of years.

 

A different GSK vaccine was the first to be recommended for widespread use against malaria by the World Health Organization in 2021, and it has now been administered to over a million children in Africa.

However, research has found that the effectiveness of GSK’s vaccine is around 60% and diminishes significantly over time, even with a booster dose.

Oxford’s R21/Matrix-M vaccine meanwhile was found to be 77 percent effective at preventing malaria in research published last year beating the percent goal set by the WHO.

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