Burkina Faso at the forefront of the breakthrough malaria vaccine

Developed by the Jenner Institute, the vaccine shows promise to rid the world of malaria.

With an efficacy of 77%, this is the first time in history that the World Health Organisation’s 75% efficacy target for a malaria vaccine is reached. The breakthrough vaccine, called R21/Matrix-M, was developed by scientists at the Jenner Institute of Oxford University led by the institute’s director, Adrian Hill. Malaria remains one of the world’s most debilitating infectious diseases with billions of dollars spent annually on bed nets, insecticides and antimalarial drugs with no notable impact on the death rate. Each year, malaria kills over 400,000 across the globe, with two-thirds of the deaths being reported among African children under five years of age. In 2019, WHO estimated 229 million cases of malaria.

The ground-breaking results were announced following a year-long trial involving 450 children in Burkina Faso. A larger trial of about 4,800 children aged between five months and three years is expected to resume soon across four African countries. The pursuit for an effective malaria vaccine has gripped the world for much of the past century with little notable progress to date. GlaxoSmithKline’s Mosquirix vaccine which was developed in collaboration with PATH for decades, only proved to be partially effective, preventing 39% of malaria cases among African children. It is currently being piloted by the WHO in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi under the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme pilot programme.