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Serum Institute ships first set of its malaria vaccine to Africa

By, New Delhi
May 21, 2024 07:38 AM IST

Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), announced on Monday that it has shipped its first batch of malaria vaccines— R21/Matrix-M— to Africa

Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), announced on Monday that it has shipped its first batch of malaria vaccines— R21/Matrix-M— to Africa.

CEO of Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla and Ambassador of the United States of America to India, Eric Garcetti flag off the first consignment of R21-Matrix-M Malaria vaccine doses to Africa, in Pune on Monday. (ANI)
CEO of Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla and Ambassador of the United States of America to India, Eric Garcetti flag off the first consignment of R21-Matrix-M Malaria vaccine doses to Africa, in Pune on Monday. (ANI)

“The initial shipment will be sent to the Central African Republic (CAR), followed by other African countries such as South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo in the next coming days. In total, 1,63,800 doses of the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine have been specifically allocated for CAR region, out of which only 43,200 doses will be dispatched today from Serum Institute of India’s facility,” SII said in a statement.

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Developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford and Novavax, the vaccine is the second to be authorized for use in children in malaria-endemic regions.

“The malaria vaccine, developed through collaboration between the Jenner Institute at Oxford University and the Serum Institute of India leveraging Novavax’s saponin-based adjuvant technology, received support from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), the Wellcome Trust, and the European Investment Bank (EIB),” SII added.

According to the company, SII has manufactured 25 million doses to date, and with a capacity to scale up to 100 million doses annually.

In 2022, the WHO Africa region was home to 94% of malaria cases (233 million) and 95% (580,000) of malaria deaths. India had an estimated 3.38 million cases and 5,511 deaths. No Malaria vaccine is currently being used in India under the national programme.

“As two diverse democracies, the US and India have flourishing private sectors that foster innovation, knowledge, and access to high-quality healthcare. The development of the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine represents a great step forward in our battle against this deadly parasite. The quality, affordable vaccines that will be produced through this partnership between Novavax and SII will prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths every year across the globe,” Eric Garcetti, US Ambassador to India,said in the statement.

Umesh Shaligram, executive director, R&D, SII, said, “… This achievement is a testament to the power of collaboration and the efforts of our dedicated workforce at the Serum Institute of India, working in partnership with Novavax and the University of Oxford. As we embark on this critical mission to protect the most vulnerable members of our global community, we remain committed to our core values of innovation, affordability, and accessibility. This is a significant step towards a world free from the burden of malaria.”

John C. Jacobs, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novavax added: “The R21/Matrix-M vaccine is a vital new tool to help stop the devastating health and economic impact of malaria on nearly half of the world’s population, including the tragic loss of 1,300 children every single day.” “Now more than ever, collaborations are imperative to address unmet needs in preventable infectious disease…”

The vaccine received WHO recommendation for use in children last year in October. This tear, its developers released its Phase 3 trial data , showing high efficacy.

“The vaccine marks the culmination of 30 years of malaria vaccine research at the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute. The vaccine is easily deployable, cost effective and affordable, and has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives a year. This is important as vaccinating those at high risk of malaria will be important in stemming the spread of the disease, as well as protecting the vaccinated,” SII’s statement said.

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