In a significant breakthrough in the fight against malaria, the World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday officially approved the R21–Matrix/M malaria vaccine for widespread use. This achievement is the result of years of research, dedication, and collaboration among scientists, healthcare professionals, and organizations led by the University of Oxford's Jenner Institute.
Professor Halidou Tinto, Director in Parasitology and Regional Director of the Institute de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé – Clinical Research Unit of Nanoro, who is part of Jenner Institute's consortium, played a crucial role in the development and evaluation of the R21 vaccine. He led as Principal Investigator the clinical trials Phase IIb and Phase III in Burkina Faso, demonstrating high efficacy levels and a reassuring safety profile among children who received a three-dose primary regimen and one booster dose a year later. The Phase III trial results are under peer review before publication.
The vaccine has been approved for use in children aged 5 to 36 months, the age group at the highest risk of death from malaria. Burkina Faso is the third country in Africa, following Ghana and Nigeria, to authorize the vaccine, which will be manufactured and commercialized by the Serum Institute of India.
In a recent interview, Professor Halidou, said:
"The regulatory licensure of a malaria vaccine with such unprecedented safety and efficacy levels is the most exciting milestone reached in my career of researcher in Africa. When we started the Phase II trial in May 2019, I never imagined that 4 years later we’ll reach such an historical decision that will contribute to save millions of lives in our continent and that is what makes us very proud".
The Burkina Faso trials, which enrolled thousands of participants, provided essential data on the vaccine's effectiveness in a high-transmission setting. The results were highly promising, demonstrating a significant reduction in malaria cases among vaccinated individuals. Professor Tinto's leadership and dedication to this groundbreaking research earned him recognition from the global health community.
Professor Halidou Tinto is also Co-Lead of the NIHR Global Health Research Group on Digital Diagnostics for African Health Systems, which warmly congratulates its Co-Lead, on this terrific achievement.
For more details on the WHO Announcement and R21–Matrix/M, please, visit the WHO website: https://www.who.int/news/item/02-10-2023-who-recommends-r21-matrix-m-vaccine-for-malaria-prevention-in-updated-advice-on-immunization