AFRICA – The Serum Institute of India, the world’s leading vaccine manufacturer, has dispatched its inaugural R21/Matrix-M™ malaria vaccine consignment to Africa.

The initial shipment, bound for the Central African Republic (CAR), is the first of many deliveries planned for countries like South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the near future

Of the 163,800 doses earmarked for CAR, 43,200 are being dispatched yesterday from SII’s Pune facility.

Developed through a collaboration between the University of Oxford and Novavax, the R21/Matrix-M™ vaccine is the second malaria vaccine authorized for children in malaria-endemic regions. 

Leveraging Novavax’s Matrix-M adjuvant, the vaccine has garnered support from organizations like the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), the Wellcome Trust, and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The flag-off ceremony, held at SII’s Pune facility, saw the presence of distinguished guests, including the US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, and representatives from the University of Oxford and Novavax.

This strengthened the significance of international partnerships in addressing global health challenges.

“To date, Serum Institute of India has produced 25 million doses of the vaccine, with the capability to scale up production to 100 million doses annually,” mentioned Mr. Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII.

Mr. Garcetti, emphasizing the importance of collaboration, stated, “The collaboration between the United States and India exemplifies the innovation and accessibility that our private sectors can achieve.

“The R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine represents a major advancement in the fight against malaria, promising to save hundreds of thousands of lives globally.”

Dr. Umesh Shaligram, Executive Director of R&D at SII, hailed the shipment as a monumental milestone in the collective fight against malaria. 

“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,” Dr. Shaligram remarked.

Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, expressed optimism about the vaccine’s impact, stating, “The start of the distribution at large scale of this high efficacy, very cost-effective vaccine should mark a turning point in the battle against malaria.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the R21/Matrix-M™ vaccine for use in children last year following the announcement of its Phase 3 Trial data results indicating high efficacy.

Published findings from a Phase 2b trial demonstrated a remarkable efficacy of 77 percent over 12 months of follow-up, paving the way for vaccination of children in high-risk populations.

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