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Phase 2b clinical trials of R21/Matrix M (a new malaria vaccine) have shown the efficacy of 77%. It is a new version of RTS, S — another candidate against malaria. Experts believe that this new version could be a game-changer in curtailing the spread of malaria across the globe, especially during pandemic times.
- The results of phase 2b clinical trials of R21/Matrix M were published recently in the Lancet Journal.
- The new malaria vaccine showed an efficacy of 77%, much higher than its previous version named RTS,S.
About the Previous Version:
- RTS, S has been in development for more than 30 years. It is a joint work of Walter Reed Institute of Research, GlaxoSmithKline, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.
- It targets the liver stage protein of the Plasmodium falciparum life cycle.
- Thus, it stops the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite from entering the liver thereby preventing the subsequent deadly blood stages.
- To date, it is the only vaccine to reduce malaria in children. However, it doesn’t have high efficacy.
About the new version:
- R21/Matrix M is a modified version of RTS, S.
- Scientists at the University of Oxford have been developing it for the last 6-7years. Serum Institute of India is manufacturing it.
- The vaccine trial began in 2014-15 on 450 children in Burkina Faso.
- The result of the phase 2b trial showed a 77% efficacy. This made it the first vaccine to reach WHO’s goal of at least 75% efficacy.
Need of New Malaria Vaccine:
- High Incidence of Malaria: In 2019, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria and 409 000 malaria-related deaths in 87 countries. In the same year, India witnessed 5.6 million cases.
- Under 5 children in sub-saharan Africa accounted for approximately two-thirds of global deaths.
- Greater Hardships posed by Pandemic: As per a WHO survey, approximately one-third of countries around the world reported disruptions in malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment services during the first quarter of 2021.
- Disruptions occurred as people were unable or unwilling to seek care in health facilities.
- Further lockdowns and restrictions on the movement led to delays in the delivery of insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
- Serum Institute of India and US vaccine maker Novavax have begun the process of phase 3 trials in 4 African countries.
- This would assess large-scale safety and efficacy in 4,800 children aged five to 36 months.
- The success of the trial would enable bulk production of the vaccine that would help curtail malaria across the globe.
Source: Indian Express