This Thursday, September 8, scientists from the University of Oxford published in the journal “Lancet Infectious Diseases”, results observed after the administration of a booster vaccine against malaria, the R21 Matrix-M vaccine. This is a new vaccine developed by researchers to fight malaria. If these results are confirmed, they would constitute a major advance in the fight against a parasite that is especially devastating in Africa.
Discovered since ancient times, malaria still kills today. Indeed, it is one of the main causes of death of children under 5 years old, especially on the African continent. In 2020, 627,000 people died, mostly children under the age of five.
Fortunately, the results of a clinical trial published this Thursday, September 8, in the medical journal The Lancet are promising. A booster dose of the new malaria vaccine provides 80% to 70% protection against the disease. Its results, while hopeful, could be validated in a third, larger phase. According to the results of the study currently available, a clinical trial was conducted in Burkina Faso on 450 children aged 5 to 17 months to attest to its effectiveness. The results show that the vaccine can prevent malaria by 80% to 70%, depending on the mechanism adopted.
Another advantage of the new R21 Matrix-M vaccine is that it could be produced quickly and in large quantities. This could consequently reduce the number of deaths due to this disease.
These results come one year after the WHO recommended the first malaria vaccine, RTS-S, produced by the British pharmaceutical giant GSK. Since then, it has been administered to over one million children in Africa. But research has shown that GSK’s vaccine was 60% effective and decreased significantly over time, even with a booster dose.
The Oxford R21/Matrix-M vaccine represents a major advance in the fight against malaria because it is the first time that a vaccine has exceeded the WHO efficacy target of 75%.