New malaria vaccine is the ‘best yet’, say scientists
Scientists hope the low-cost vaccine can be mass-produced in a matter of years, which is expected to be approved by the World Health Organization next year.
After the latest trial results were positive, the co-inventor of a malaria vaccine expressed hope that it could be approved as early as next year.
Professor Adrian Hill, who co-created the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, called it "the best [malaria] vaccine yet." He previously stated that he believes R21 could help reduce disease deaths by 70% by 2030 and eliminate it by 2040.
However, Hill, director of Oxford University's Jenner Institute, said it would be tragic if Britain cut funding just as scientists were set to make "a real impact" against malaria.
He has urged Britain's new PM, Liz Truss, not to waste cutting-edge UK innovation by "turning off the taps" on global health funding.
Testing in Burkina Faso revealed that R21, which was previously shown to be 77% effective after the initial doses, maintains its high efficacy after a single booster jab.
The vaccine is expected to be approved by the World Health Organization next year, according to researchers.
However, Hill cautioned that without funding, getting the vaccine into the hands of the tens of millions of African children who most need it would be difficult.
The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which provides more than half of all funding for the world's malaria programs, has warned that unless it receives significantly more money from leading donor countries such as the United Kingdom at its pledging conference this month, it will not be able to get the fight against those diseases back on track after the Covid pandemic.
The UK has not yet stated how much it will pledge at the conference in New York, but the fund is thought to have requested around £1.8 billion.
As former Foreign Secretary, Truss defined a strategy for overseas aid that included a reduction in overall spending and a withdrawal from funding multilateral organizations such as the Global Fund.
It is worth noting that scientists have been searching for a good malaria vaccine for nearly a century, with the first clinical trial taking place in the 1940s.
Every year, the disease kills hundreds of thousands of people, the majority of whom are children under the age of five in Africa.