A ground-breaking malaria vaccine has shown in trials to provide up to 80% protection on those triple vaccinated . The R21 Matrix-M malaria vaccine, which has been developed at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, provides protection against seasonal malaria transmission.
The vaccine has been trialled in children living in a high malarial risk region. The vaccine proved highly effective at lowering cases of the disease among the trial group.
Researchers say that the vaccine when used in conjunction with other malaria prevention methods has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of children at risk from dying of the disease.
However, scientists noted that the sample size in the study was small, as only 450 children took part, and that further larger scale testing is required, but they are extremely hopeful that the R21 vaccine will saves thousands of children’s lives.
The efficacy of the newly developed vaccine is reportedly greater than the GSK RTS,S, malaria vaccine which was approved last year by the World Health Organization.
However, the R21 does still require an initial three doses and then a further booster yearly to maintain top efficacy.
Both vaccines target the parasite in the early stages of the reproductive cycle before it enters the liver cells. The parasite is notoriously hard to create immunity against due to constantly changing surface proteins as it shapeshifts to avoid detection within the body.
Researchers say they can scale up production and produce over 100 million doses a year. While this new vaccine has been met with praise, experts have been vocal around the need for continued funding to combat malaria.
Datoo, Mehreen S et al. (2022) Efficacy and immunogenicity of R21/Matrix-M vaccine against clinical malaria after 2 years' follow-up in children in Burkina Faso: a phase 1/2b randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Volume 0, Issue 0 Published: September 07, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(22)00442-X