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Malaria Fight Slows: Over 120M Vaccine Doses Possible, Only a Fraction to be Used

By: Ebenezer Mensah 

In the global health landscape, the fight against malaria has taken on an unsatisfactory pace, according to a recent report by 1Day Africa and 1Day Sooner. The report reveals that despite the ability to produce over 120 million doses of the R21 malaria vaccine in 2024, only a fraction will be utilized under current World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi plans. This leaves millions of African children vulnerable to infection and death from malaria.

Idle Vaccine Doses and Delayed Response

The Serum Institute of India, capable of generating more than 100 million doses of the R21 vaccine in 2024, reportedly has over 20 million idle doses. The report criticizes the slow response from global health institutions to the malaria crisis, particularly in contrast to the rapid deployment of COVID-19 vaccines. Halidou Tinto, the lead researcher of the R21 vaccine’s phase III trial, suggests that progress is slow because malaria primarily affects non-Western countries.

R21 Vaccine: Approval and Rollout

The R21 vaccine, proven safe and effective, has received WHO’s approval. Yet, the WHO’s target to commence R21 rollout is not until mid-2024, despite earlier discussions of an early 2024 rollout to 20 countries. This delay has drawn considerable criticism, with the report calling for increased media coverage and questioning the reasons behind the delayed response from WHO and Gavi.

The Urgency of the Situation

Zacharia Kafuko of 1Day Africa stresses the urgency of the situation, highlighting the fact that malaria kills an average of 1,000 African children daily. The report calls for greater involvement of African governments and delineates what is needed to expedite the process. It is evident that the current pace of response and deployment of the malaria vaccine is inadequate and requires immediate acceleration to prevent the unnecessary loss of life.