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Serum Institute ships first batch of malaria jabs to Africa

The Pune-based vaccine maker shipped 43,200 doses of R21, or Matrix-M malaria vaccine, to Africa

Serum Institute ships first batch of malaria jabs to Africa
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

Pune-based vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India on Monday shipped 43,200 doses of R21 or Matrix-M malaria vaccine to Africa, the company said.

The initial shipment will be sent to the Central African Republic (CAR), followed by other African countries such as South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo in the next coming days, SII said.

A total of 163,800 doses of the vaccine have been specifically allocated for CAR region and received a WHO recommendation for use in children last October, followed by the announcement of its high efficacy in its phase 3 trial data results this year.

This malaria vaccine, developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford and Novavax’s Matrix-M adjuvant, is the second such vaccine to be authorized for use in children in malaria-endemic regions.

The flag-off ceremony of the malaria vaccine took place at the Serum Institute of India’s facility in Pune. US ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, was also present at the event.

Developed through a collaboration between the Jenner Institute at Oxford University and the Serum Institute of India, leveraging by Novavax’s saponin-based adjuvant technology, the vaccine has received support from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), the Wellcome Trust, and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

To date, the Serum Institute of India has manufactured 25 million doses of vaccines, and its capacity can be scaled up to 100 million doses annually.

“As two diverse democracies, the United States and India have flourishing private sectors that foster innovation, knowledge, and access to high-quality healthcare,” said Garcetti.

He added that the development of the malaria vaccine represents a great step forward in our battle against this deadly parasite. The quality, affordable vaccines that will be produced through this partnership between Novavax and SII will prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths every year across the globe.

Dr. Umesh Shaligram, executive director, research and development at SII, said, “The shipment of the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine to Africa marks a momentous milestone in our collective fight against this life-threatening disease.”

He added that this achievement is a testament to the power of collaboration and the efforts of our dedicated workforce at the Serum Institute of India, working in partnership with Novavax and the University of Oxford.

“As we embark on this critical mission to protect the most vulnerable members of our global community, we remain committed to our core values of innovation, affordability, and accessibility. This is a significant step towards a world free from the burden of malaria.” said Shaligram.

“The R21/Matrix-M™ vaccine is a vital new tool to help stop the devastating health and economic impact of malaria on nearly half of the world’s population, including the tragic loss of 1,300 children every single day,” said John C. Jacobs, president and chief executive officer, Novavax.

“Now more than ever, collaborations are imperative to address unmet needs in preventable infectious disease. Novavax is proud of our partnership with the University of Oxford and Serum Institute of India and grateful for the support of Gavi and UNICEF in the vaccine’s rollout,” Jacobs said.

Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, said, “The start of the large-scale distribution of this high-efficacy, very cost-effective vaccine should mark a turning point in the battle against malaria.”

R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine marks the culmination of 30 years of malaria vaccine research at the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute.

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