(Bloomberg) -- A malaria shot developed by researchers at the University of Oxford can help children avoid contracting the deadly disease, the World Health Organization said, recommending the second vaccine developed against the infection.
The vaccine, known as R21, has been shown to have an efficacy as high as 80% one year after a fourth dose was administered to infants in a clinical trial. The approval will help the fight against the mosquito-borne disease as only 18 million doses of the existing approved vaccine are available through 2025, while there will be as many as 100 million doses per year of R21.
“Today is a great day for science,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the WHO, during a press conference in Geneva on Monday.
Malaria has been a tricky target for vaccine makers, but researchers are making progress. The parasites that cause the deadly disease are prone to mutations that allow them to develop resistance to some existing treatments. BioNTech SE, which developed the highly potent mRNA Covid vaccine in partnership with Pfizer Inc, is also working on a vaccine candidate for malaria.
Last year, the WHO formally endorsed the world’s first vaccine for the disease, developed by GSK and its partners. That shot is called Mosquirix. R21 is being produced by the Serum Institute of India Ltd.
Read more: First Malaria Vaccine Advances After Decades of Work
The R21 vaccine will become available to countries in mid-2024 at a price of $2 to $4 per dose, Tedros said.
At least 28 African countries plan to start administering malaria vaccines, Tedros said. In 2021 the disease killed 619,000 people, almost all of them in Africa and most of them children under five years old, he said.
Separately, a WHO panel made recommendations for vaccines against Covid-19, dengue and meningitis:
- Monovalent Omicron XBB vaccines provide slightly better protection against Covid compared to other shots
- If those vaccines aren’t available, any WHO emergency-use listed or pre-qualified vaccine may be used
- Takeda’s dengue vaccine should be considered in areas with high disease burden and the shot should be given to children between six and 16
- Countries in the African meningitis belt should introduce a new multivalent conjugate vaccine
(Updates with supply of vaccine in second paragraph)
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