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Landmark deal to deliver new malaria vaccine

UNICEF Malawi/2018/Brown Patient Attendant Happiness Kita gives Esther her malaria medication at the under-five clinic. She's had malaria several times over the past two years.

Children’s charity UNICEF has announced an agreement to secure supply of the world’s second malaria vaccine, R21/Matrix-M.

It marks a significant milestone on the journey towards meeting the high demand for doses of new vaccines against malaria – a disease which still kills one child under five every minute. This long-term agreement signed with Serum Life Sciences for 2024-2028 is conditional on vaccine pre-qualification from the World Health Organization.

Leila Pakkala, Director of UNICEF Supply Division, said: “It is heartbreaking and unacceptable that almost half a million children die of malaria every year. This agreement is a critical step towards protecting more children from this deadly disease,”

Under the four-year agreement, UNICEF expects to begin delivering the R21/Matrix-M vaccine in mid-2024, with immunizations beginning in the same period. This builds on UNICEF’s work to expand access to malaria vaccines, and complements the landmark first malaria vaccine RTS,S. Deliveries of RTS,S are anticipated to start in late 2023.

The R21/Matrix-M and RTS,S malaria vaccines are the result of 35 years of research and development. They are the first vaccines developed against a parasitic disease. Both act against Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa. The vaccines are a critical addition to the toolbox of measures in the fight against malaria.

UNICEF is the world’s largest single vaccine buyer, procuring more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine child immunization and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries. This procurement of the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine will help boost global supply and accelerate equitable malaria vaccine access for children and families.

Author: Simon Weedy

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