WHO welcomes the historic decision by the Gavi Alliance Board to invest in the first malaria vaccine programme. The decision secures investment in the long-awaited malaria vaccine and assures that many more children at risk will benefit from this life-saving vaccine and additional malaria prevention.
The Gavi Board approved an investment to support the malaria vaccine introduction, procurement and delivery for Gavi-eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa in 2022-2025. An initial investment of US$ 155.7 million for 2022-2025 will initiate the implementation of this additional tool to “help drive down child mortality in Africa,” according to Gavi.
In response to the decision, Minister of Health of Ghana and Gavi Board member Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu said in the announcement: “Ghana, together with several countries on the continent, is proud to have been involved in the pilot program and the development of the first approved malaria vaccine, and today we welcome the decision made by the Gavi board to invest in the malaria vaccine programme. We must now work together to ensure children across the continent can benefit from this additional malaria intervention.”
“This global investment is another milestone for the first malaria vaccine, which will boost child survival and extend the reach of malaria prevention through the existing platform of childhood vaccination,” said Dr Kate O’Brien, Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals. “This international financing of malaria vaccine doses for country implementation is a concrete step forward to increase access to the RTS,S malaria vaccine.”
The WHO recommendation for the RTS,S malaria vaccine and this follow-on decision was achieved through the support and contributions of WHO across many departments and all levels of the Organization, the Ministries of Health in the pilot countries of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, African-based evaluation partners, UNICEF, PATH, GSK, the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP) funders (Gavi, the Global Fund and Unitaid) and other international and country-level public and private partners.
Interest in the malaria vaccine in endemic countries is high and demand for the vaccine is expected to outpace the currently limited supply. Current vaccine production estimates are for up to 15 million doses per year; however, demand is estimated at more than 80 million doses annually.
“The significance of these two announcements – first, the WHO recommendation, and second, Gavi’s decision to open a funding window for the vaccine – is truly historic,” said Dr Pedro Alonso, Director of the Global Malaria Programme. “We need new tools to reach our global malaria targets. And now, for the first time, we have a malaria vaccine that we estimate can save an additional 40 000 to 80 000 lives of African children each year. This represents a scientific and public health breakthrough.”
WHO and partners are committed to finding approaches and taking actions to accelerate vaccine availability to increase vaccine access and reduce child illness and deaths.