A nurse prepares draws vaccine. Photo courtesy of Gavi.

Gavi to finance malaria vaccine rollout

If properly deployed and targeted, the RTS,S vaccine could prevent “somewhere between 40,000 and 80,000” deaths, Alonso says.


By Devex

 

Washington DC, USA—3, December 2021: In October, the World Health Organization made a historic recommendation for the broad use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine in sub-Saharan Africa and countries where the disease is prevalent. On Thursday, Gavi’s board of directors announced it will invest $155.7 million between 2022 and 2025 to help countries finance procurement, technical assistance, and other costs associated with the rollout, Sara Jerving reports.

Alongside headline-making projections about the lifesaving potential of the first approved vaccine against a disease that kills more than 400,000 people every year, health experts have repeatedly stressed that RTS,S, which was developed by GlaxoSmithKline, is not a silver bullet.

Gavi, WHO, and others are quick to emphasize that it should be deployed alongside, not instead of, existing malaria prevention and treatment measures.

“This vaccine will help enormously in terms of reducing deaths. It is likely to have very little impact in terms of reducing transmission and will therefore not bring us rolling a lot closer to an elimination scenario,” says Dr. Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s Global Malaria Programme.

If properly deployed and targeted, the RTS,S vaccine could prevent “somewhere between 40,000 and 80,000” deaths, Alonso says.

Financing is just one piece of the puzzle. A major scale up in production is another. Alonso estimates that yearly production of the vaccine will have to increase from its current level of about 7 million doses to around 80 to 120 million doses per year.

Gavi has agreed to finance the rollout of the world’s first malaria vaccine. Low- and middle-income countries will now be able to add the vaccine to their immunization programs as an additional tool to fight malaria.

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