UK-India malaria vaccine partnership saving children’s lives in Africa

UK-India malaria vaccine partnership saving children’s lives in Africa

A thriving vaccine partnership between the UK and India is ensuring access to life-saving malaria vaccines for children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Collaboration between British scientists and Indian manufacturers has resulted in two essential malaria vaccines – RTS,S and R21. These have been used in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, with 2 million children vaccinated since 2019, and, in January, Cameroon became the first country to give the vaccines to children routinely.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, UK Minister of State for the Indo-Pacific in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), said: “Both vaccines are significant scientific breakthroughs and important additions to the range of tools we have for fighting malaria.

“Both vaccines are now being rolled out across Africa with the aim of immunising more than 6 million children by the end of 2025. This is a huge step forward in the global fight against malaria and would not have been possible without a strong UK-India partnership.”

Last week on April 25, to mark the World Health Organisation’s World Malaria Day, the FCDO announced that Sierra Leone, Liberia and Benin will begin their first rollout of the UK-Indian developed RTS,S vaccine, marking a significant milestone in the mission to end malaria – one of the biggest killers of children in Africa.

The UK is the largest sovereign donor to the core immunisation programme of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is currently supporting the rollout of RTS,S malaria vaccine. A total of 22 countries are approved to roll out the vaccine, with Gavi aiming to immunise more than six million children from malaria by the end of 2025.

The only two WHO-approved malaria vaccines are developed by UK scientists at GSK and the University of Oxford and are now being manufactured at scale by Indian pharmaceutical companies. The GSK vaccine RTS,S is being produced by Bharat Biotech, and the University of Oxford’s newer R21 vaccine, by the Serum Institute of India. Findings from a major pilot study which began in 2019 rolling out RTS,S in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, has shown that 13 per cent more children are not dying from malaria in combination with other malaria interventions.


UK-India malaria vaccine partnership saving children’s lives in Africa
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The FCDO announced a further £7.4 million from the UK to make malaria drugs and tests accessible for countries around the world. The funding brings total UK support to MedAccess to £17.4 million to help 1 million people access new diagnostic tests and 120 million patients to receive anti-malarial treatments. In three years, it is expected that more than 50 million people will have access to drugs and other items.

MedAccess guarantees sales volumes of drugs in markets where demand is uncertain so manufacturers can commit to affordable prices and stable supply. In return, manufacturers receive assurance that they will be paid even if the demand doesn’t materialise.

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