A malaria vaccine has shown record efficacy in a phase II trial, a pre-print study published Friday by Oxford University shows, raising hopes that one of the world’s deadliest diseases can be controlled.
The vaccine, developed by Oxford and known as R21, showed up to 77% efficacy in a trial of 450 children in Burkina Faso over 12 months, the university said in a statement. He said the injection was the first to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap goal of being a malaria vaccine with at least 75% efficacy.
“These are very exciting results showing unprecedented levels of efficacy for a vaccine that has been well tolerated in our test program,” Halidou Tinto, the trial’s principal investigator, said in a statement. “We look forward to the next phase III trial to demonstrate large-scale safety and efficacy data for a much-needed vaccine in this region.”
Scientists use drones to fight malariaThe study inoculated 450 children between the ages of 5 to 17 months. They were divided into three groups, and the researchers reported that the highest dose group was 77% less likely to get the disease “and 71% less likely in the lowest dose adjuvant group, during 12 months of follow-up.” according to the statement.
It was noted that “there were no serious adverse events related to the vaccine,” the statement added.
The researchers, together with their business partners the Serum Institute of India and drug maker Novavax, are now recruiting for a phase III trial ‘to assess large-scale safety and efficacy in 4,800 children, aged 5 to 36 months, in four African countries.
In the future, the university and its partners hope to be able to manufacture at least 200 million doses a year, which would have a “great impact on public health if the license is achieved,” the statement said.
“Malaria is one of the leading causes of infant mortality in Africa,” Charlemagne Ouédraogo, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Health, said in the statement.
“We have been supporting trials of a variety of new candidate vaccines in Burkina Faso and this new data shows that the licensing of a very useful new vaccine against malaria could well happen in the next few years. That would be an extremely important new tool to control malaria and save many lives.
Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted through the bite of female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and treatable, but an estimated 435,000 people die each year, with the majority being children under the age of five.
The African region was home to 94% of all 2019 malaria cases and deaths, according to the WHO.