R21/Matrix-M malaria Vaccine

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India, has been recommended for use by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • The recommendation comes after a detailed scientific review by the WHO’s independent advisory bodies, including the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) and the Malaria Policy Advisory Group (MPAG).

More about the news

  • The Matrix-M component, a proprietary saponin-based adjuvant from Novavax, is used in the vaccine.
  • Novavax retains commercial rights in non-endemic countries, while the Serum Institute has rights for use in endemic countries.
  • The R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine has already been licensed for use in Ghana, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso.
  • The vaccine demonstrated efficacy of 75% at sites with high seasonal malaria transmission and 68% at sites with more perennial transmission using standard age-based administration.
  • Booster doses restored efficacy, with a vaccine efficacy over 18 months of 74% at seasonal sites.
  • The Serum Institute of India aims to scale up vaccine production to ensure accessibility for those in need.
  • The vaccine is expected to accelerate and expand access to a safe and potentially life-saving vaccine for controlling malaria, especially among children, who are disproportionately affected by the disease.

 About Malaria

  • Malaria is a mosquito-borne blood disease caused by Plasmodium protozoa.
  • The disease is transmitted through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
  • It is caused by Plasmodium parasites and can be life-threatening.
  • The parasites multiply in liver cells and then attack Red Blood Cells (RBCs) in the human body.
  • There are five parasite species that cause malaria in humans, with Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax posing the greatest threat.
  • Malaria is predominantly found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, South America, and Asia.
  • Common symptoms include fever, flu-like illness, chills, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue.

 Disease Burden

  • According to the latest World Malaria Report, there were 247 million cases of malaria in 2021, compared to 245 million cases in 2020.
  • In 2022, India reported over 45,000 cases of malaria.
  • Children under five years of age accounted for about 80% of all malaria deaths in the WHO African Region.

Initiatives to Curb Malaria:

 Global Initiatives

  • WHO’s ‘E-2025 Initiative’ identifies 25 countries with the potential to eradicate malaria by 2025.
  • The WHO’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030 aims to reduce malaria case incidence and mortality rates by at least 40% by 2020, at least 75% by 2025, and at least 90% by 2030 against a 2015 baseline.
  • The High Burden to High Impact (HBHI) initiative targets 11 high malaria burden countries, including India.

Indian Initiatives

  • The Government of India set a target to eliminate malaria in India by 2027.
  • A National Framework for Malaria Elimination (2016-2030) was developed, focusing on shifting from malaria control to elimination.
  • A National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination for 5 years was launched in 2017. The plan aimed to end malaria in 571 districts out of India’s 678 districts by 2022.
  • The Malaria Elimination Research Alliance-India (MERA-India) was established by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to collaborate on malaria control efforts.

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