Photo by Trnava University


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended the use of a new malaria vaccine called R21/MATRIX-M. UK scientists worked with the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India to create this vaccine, which costs between two US dollars and four dollars per dose.

Clinical trials took place in the UK, Thailand, and several African countries, and Ghana approved it for use in children aged five months to three in April. The WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) and the Malaria Policy Advisory Group (MPAG) have now backed the vaccine for use.

WHO has recommended a second vaccine for malaria after assessing its effectiveness and safety in preventing the disease in children. The new vaccine, R21/Matrix-M, follows the RTS, S/AS01 vaccine, which was approved by the organization in 2021. 

Malaria kills nearly 500,000 children each year in the African region, and both vaccines are expected to have a high impact on public health. Although the demand for the RTS, S/AS01 vaccine is high, the introduction of a new vaccine is essential to protect more children and bring us closer to the goal of a malaria-free future. 

The R21/Matrix-M vaccine, which is also backed by UK-based research and development, must complete the ongoing WHO prequalification to be available for global procurement for a broader rollout. At least 28 African countries intend to include a WHO-recommended malaria jab in their national immunization programs.

However, there is a need for adequate funding, support, and pathways to ensure that these vaccines reach children quickly and effectively. Financing for malaria globally is still insufficient, and deaths from malaria have risen during the pandemic, indicating a need for caution as new preventive measures are being developed.