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MedAccess welcomes Gavi’s decision to roll out world’s first malaria vaccine

by MedAccess

Photograph: Mothers wait for their five-month old children to receive the first dose of the malaria vaccine, Mkaka Primary School Outreach, Malawi (Credit: PATH)

MedAccess has welcomed the decision by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to fund the world’s first mass malaria immunisation programmes using the ground-breaking RTS,S/AS01e vaccine.

Gavi’s board agreed to finance the life-saving vaccine’s rollout at scale for millions of children under-two in sub-Saharan Africa. This decision allows national health ministries to apply to Gavi to finance RTS,S procurement, so they can deliver it via existing national immunisation programmes.

The RTS,S programme requires four doses to be given at five, six and seven months and another before 17 months.

The announcement follows the World Health Organization’s decision in October 2021 to recommend RTS,S’ “widespread use” in fighting malaria, which kills more than 260,000 under-fives every year.

MedAccess CEO Michael Anderson said:

“Malaria is a scar on the world’s conscience, an ongoing tragedy that we have the power to stop.

“Gavi’s financial backing is major step forward in the fight against a disease that kills a child every two minutes, after GSK’s efforts over three decades to develop RTS,S.  The vaccine is an important additional tool – to be used along with insecticidal nets and other interventions – to counter the deadly effects of malaria.

“Financial support from MedAccess allowed GSK to continue production of the vaccine antigen before WHO and Gavi took decisions on the vaccine’s deployment. We stepped in with a production guarantee to keep manufacturing lines rolling. I am proud that this action will speed up vaccination against malaria for millions more children.

“Gavi’s decision shows what can be achieved when science, public health and finance work in sync. The challenge now is to roll out the vaccine quickly alongside other proven malaria interventions, to protect people vulnerable to its devastating impact.”

Gavi’s decision shows what can be achieved when science, public health and finance work in sync. The challenge now is to roll out the vaccine quickly alongside other proven malaria interventions, to protect people vulnerable to its devastating impact

MedAccess’ production guarantee enabled Gavi to fund GSK’s continued manufacture of RTS,S antigen at its dedicated facility in Rixensart, Belgium. Under the terms of the agreement MedAccess guaranteed the majority of the production costs if the vaccine had not received policy and funding approval.

UK Government Minister for Global Health Wendy Morton added:

“I welcome today’s decision from the Gavi Board to approve funding for the world’s first malaria vaccine. This will help save the lives of thousands of children.

“The UK supports partners to combat malaria and protect the most vulnerable through funding to Gavi, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and Unitaid. I am proud that British expertise, such as MedAccess and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is at the heart of this important work.”

GSK has invested around $700 million in the production of RTS,S to date. It has donated up to the 10 million does for the ongoing RTS,S pilots in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – and now finance for routine immunisation is being put in place, it will supply an additional 15 million doses annually, at five percent above production costs.

MedAccess’ guarantee means bulk RTS,S antigen stockpiles have built up over the past three months and production can now be accelerated rapidly.

MedAccess is a UK-based social finance company, founded with $200 million capital by the UK’s CDC Group.