WHO gains funds needed to launch pilot implementation of malaria vaccine

A $15 million grant from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will go toward a project that allows WHO and its partners to introduce a malaria vaccine candidate in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a press release.

The grant will be combined with previously established funding from UNITAID (up to $13.2 million), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (up to $27.5 million) and WHO ($17 million). The funds will be used to assess the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine in three to five locations in sub-Saharan Africa before WHO considers implementing it on a wider-scale. Doses of the vaccine will be donated by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and PATH, which received an estimated $8 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the project.

“In areas of Africa where the burden of malaria still remains intolerably high, a malaria vaccine could have a significant impact on illness and death,” David C. Kaslow, MD, vice president of essential medicines at PATH and head of PATH’s Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access, said in the release. “Working in partnership with WHO and GSK, we are keen to gather the urgently needed evidence that authorities and, eventually, individual African countries, require to decide whether or not the vaccine should be routinely used on a larger scale in Africa.”  

The RTS,S vaccine was first developed in the 1980s. Since then it has been evaluated in multiple studies, including a phase 3 trial that enrolled more than 15,000 infants and young children in seven African countries. Last year, the vaccine received a “positive scientific opinion” from European Medicines Agency, according to the release. The next step in moving the vaccine candidate forward will include an announcement from WHO confirming which countries the vaccine will be implemented in.

Disclosure: Kaslow is an employee of PATH. 

A $15 million grant from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will go toward a project that allows WHO and its partners to introduce a malaria vaccine candidate in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a press release.

The grant will be combined with previously established funding from UNITAID (up to $13.2 million), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (up to $27.5 million) and WHO ($17 million). The funds will be used to assess the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine in three to five locations in sub-Saharan Africa before WHO considers implementing it on a wider-scale. Doses of the vaccine will be donated by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and PATH, which received an estimated $8 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the project.

“In areas of Africa where the burden of malaria still remains intolerably high, a malaria vaccine could have a significant impact on illness and death,” David C. Kaslow, MD, vice president of essential medicines at PATH and head of PATH’s Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access, said in the release. “Working in partnership with WHO and GSK, we are keen to gather the urgently needed evidence that authorities and, eventually, individual African countries, require to decide whether or not the vaccine should be routinely used on a larger scale in Africa.”  

The RTS,S vaccine was first developed in the 1980s. Since then it has been evaluated in multiple studies, including a phase 3 trial that enrolled more than 15,000 infants and young children in seven African countries. Last year, the vaccine received a “positive scientific opinion” from European Medicines Agency, according to the release. The next step in moving the vaccine candidate forward will include an announcement from WHO confirming which countries the vaccine will be implemented in.

Disclosure: Kaslow is an employee of PATH.