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ONE responds to the world’s first routine malaria vaccine programme

Following a successful RTS,S malaria vaccine trial pilot programme, Gavi has announced today that Cameroon will begin administering the first batch of its malaria doses. In response to this news, Jenny Ottenhoff, ONE’s Senior Global Policy Director said: 

“This is a landmark moment in the fight against malaria and shows what is possible when we match science and innovation with investment and political will. 

“The doses being delivered today are a powerful reminder that where you live doesn’t have to determine whether you live. These vaccines will save tens of thousands of lives each year and provide a path to win the fight against one of the biggest killers in human history.

“The more doses we make available, the closer we get to a future free of malaria. This scientific breakthrough must be matched by increased investments in vaccination programmes needed to ensure we seize this opportunity.”

Notes to editors

  • After decades of clinical trials, RTS,S is the first-ever malaria vaccine available for distribution. It was recommended by the WHO in October 2021, and was rolled out as part of a trial malaria vaccine implementation programme across Ghana, Malawi and Kenya. After a successful trial programme, Gavi announced they would now be distributing 18 million doses across 12 countries starting with Cameroon back in November 2023. The first batch is expected to be administered on Monday 22 January 2024. 
  • In 2022, there were an estimated 249 million malaria cases and 608,000 malaria deaths in 85 countries. The WHO African region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden, carrying 94% of malaria cases and 95% of malaria deaths.
  • A study on ROI for RTS,S vaccination in 20 Sub-Saharan African Gavi countries suggests a positive return on investment, i.e., 42% ROI for a base case scenario of $7 vaccine price.
  • There is a second malaria vaccine (R21) that has just received WHO prequalification status and is likely the vaccine will be ready for distribution later this year. Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials for preventing malaria in children and are expected to have a high public health impact when used alongside other recommended malaria control interventions. 
  • Gavi is expected to launch its case for investment in June 2024. ONE is calling on donor governments to support and invest in the work that global health institutions such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, are doing to ensure that these kinds of life-saving vaccines reach those that need them most.