Monday, June, 17,2024

Serum Institute of India ships its first batch of Malaria vaccines to Africa

Pune (Maharashtra): In a major feat, the Serum Institute of India (SII) has shipped its first set of R21/Matrix-M Malaria vaccine doses to the African region, which has a sizeable disease burden.

The distribution of malaria vaccine across the African region will mark a significant step in the global fight against malaria.

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

Out of the total 163,800 doses specifically allocated for the CAR region, only 43,200 doses will be dispatched today from Serum Institute of India's facility.

SII, Novavax, and the University of Oxford, who are partners in the innovation of this novel vaccine, celebrated the milestone during an event attended by Eric Garcetti, US Ambassador to India. This highlighted the successful global partnership between the three countries - India, the US, and the UK.

Till now, the Serum Institute of India has manufactured 25 million doses with a capacity to scale up to 100 million doses annually.

In early October 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO), recommended R21/Matrix-M, for the prevention of malaria in children.

The R21 vaccine is the second malaria vaccine recommended by WHO, following the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine, which received a WHO recommendation in 2021.

Both vaccines are shown to be safe and effective in preventing malaria in children and, when implemented broadly, are expected to have a high public health impact.

Malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, places a particularly high burden on children in the African region, where nearly half a million children die from the disease each year.

Demand for malaria vaccines is unprecedented; however, the available supply of RTS,S is limited. The addition of R21 to the list of WHO-recommended malaria vaccines is expected to result in sufficient vaccine supply to benefit all children living in areas where malaria is a public health risk, WHO had asserted while recommending the R21 vaccine back in October.

CEO and owner Adar Poonawalla, talking to ANI, said the two countries are coming together with the best scientists, the best from academia, manufacturing, and innovation, all coming together, and one common goal, to save lives.

"But the most important and critical thing here is that Serum Institute, as you know, has always made affordable vaccines which could, you know, give access to the lower middle-income countries all over the world," Poonawalla said.

US envoy to India Garcetti, talking to ANI, said the US and India together are an extraordinary force for good in the world.

"And I want to thank the Poonawallas and the Serum Institute of India, who, together with Novavax and Oxford University, are going to be able to today send this vaccine to Africa. And starting next week, lives will be saved," the US envoy said.

"Families will have children that otherwise would be taken from them. Every minute we see somebody in Africa, a child who dies of malaria, and we see when the United States and India come together, just how brilliant the work can be. We saw it during the pandemic. This is one of the proudest moments of my time here, certainly in India, and I think proud for all of us to be able to have a small role and making sure those families will survive. So it's a really big day for us," Garcetti said. 

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