The creators of the vaccine that could possibly eradicate malaria hope that the drug is approved by early next year considering that the latest trial results have been fruitful.
Astrazeneca Covid Vaccine co-creator, Professor Adrian Hill called this R21 vaccine the best one out there so far. By 2030, Hill thinks that the use of this vaccine could cut deaths from malaria by at least 70%. It is also possible that the vaccine may also completely eradicate malaria by 2040.
With the success of this vaccine also comes concerns over the possibility that the UK may cut funding for the further development of this vaccine. Scientists expressed concern over the possibility of funding cuts as they believe a breakthrough is possible soon. Hill, who is also the director of the Jenner Institute in Oxford University, has implored the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss to not cut back on global health funding.
R21 funding has also been conducted in Burkina Faso and shows that after the initial dose that vaccine has a 77% effectiveness. If the initial dose is followed by a single booster shot, the vaccine maintains its efficacy.
Unless the ongoing trial presents unexpected problems, researchers believe that the World Health Organisation will most likely approve of the vaccine by the new year.
Professor Hill however, has also raised concerns over the challenge of providing said vaccine into the hands of the most needy children in Africa.
Global Funds to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is the body that provides half of the funding that is needed to conduct programmes for malaria around the world, and the UK happens to be one of the largest donors for this organisation. Unless the UK and other big donor countries do not pledge to donate at the conference for this organisation this month, it will not be possible for the organisation to keep doing its work in the battle against these diseases, especially after the pandemic.
The fund has supposedly asked for £1.8bn but the UK so far has made no comments on its pledge. Truss as foreign secretary however, has outlined a strategy for overseas aid and plans to cut back on overall spending and move away from funding multilateral organisations.
“The Global fund deserves to be funded, they do amazing work,” said Hill. “I hope the Prime Minister continues with the good work that the UK has done in the past as the 3rd largest donor of the fund.”
GSK’s RTS,S, is another British made malaria vaccine that although does not have the same level of efficacy as the R21 is already approved by the World Health Organisation. “Considering the fact that both the leading vaccines for malaria came from a UK headquartered company and a UK university proves that the UK is good at this. It would be devastating if now, at this point, financing were to just stop,” said Hill.
The first clinical trial to come up with a vaccine for malaria was conducted in 1940 and since then this disease has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people each year, the R21 vaccine is the first vaccine that has been able to reach WHO’s efficacy target of 75%. The production of the vaccine has never been an issue and has in fact already been licensed to the Serum Institute of India, the challenge, however, is how to fund the vaccine rollout to African countries.