A HISTORIC BREAKTHROUGH | UNICEF Signs First-Ever Malaria Vaccine Supply Contract With GSK
A major step forward for science, child health and malaria control was marked recently with UNICEF awarding GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) a contract for the first-ever supply of a vaccine against malaria.
The contract will enable UNICEF to deliver more than 18 million doses of the RTS,S vaccine – also known under the commercial name Mosquirix – in order to reduce the burden of malaria, responsible for nearly half a million children dying in Africa only in 2020.
RTS,S is a result of 35 years or research and development and constitutes also the first-ever vaccine to be distributed against a parasitic disease. The vaccine acts against Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa.
“We hope this is just the beginning. Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives’’, said Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division.
Distribution Plans Already Underway
Demand for the malaria vaccine is expected to be high among affected countries. As with any new vaccine, supply will be limited at first and will increase over time as manufacturing capacity ramps up to the required level. As volumes increase, costs per dose should decrease. Plans are already underway to boost production, including through technology transfer, so that every child at risk will one day have the opportunity to be immunised against malaria.
“We must not lose sight of the need to accelerate access to this and future malaria vaccines, and to make the necessary investments in malaria control and immunisation services, as well as in research and development,” explained Dr Ashley Birkett, Global Head of Malaria Vaccines & Biologics at PATH Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access (CVIA).
Committed to Support Vaccination Programmes
TIF applauds this historic development, hoping that the vaccine’s roll out will lead to saving the lives of millions of vulnerable children across the world. It is worth noting that thalassaemia is most common in areas historically affected by endemic malaria.
The Federation, as an official collaborator of the World Health Organisation (WHO), reiterates its firm and unwavering support of vaccination programmes and campaigns that contribute to global health and to stronger health systems overall.