Cut-price malaria vaccine to begin Africa rollout from May

AFP , Tuesday 12 Mar 2024

The world's biggest vaccine maker will start rolling out a cheap new malaria inoculation in Africa from May, bolstering the fight against one of the most deadly infectious diseases globally.



The mosquito-borne malady kills more than 600,000 people a year, 95 percent of them in Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is more fatal among the young, and the annual toll of malaria deaths includes nearly half a million African children aged under five.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) this year plans to ship 25 million doses of the new vaccine, developed along with Oxford University researchers and known as R21.

"In terms of importance and saving lives... it's going to be a hugely impactful vaccine, SII chief executive Adar Poonawalla told AFP.

"We've offered these vaccines to the African continent at $4 or less in the first year itself. And then as we scale up, maybe we can bring that down a little bit further."

The R21 vaccine, a three-dose course and booster shot for children aged 5-36 months, is the second malaria shot approved by the WHO.

But researchers say it will be cheaper than the other vaccine produced by British pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline.

The WHO said its rollout was expected to greatly expand supply to meet high demand from African countries.

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