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Research, Malaria Elimination

Large-Scale Evaluation of the RTS,S Malaria Vaccine in Africa Will Begin in 2018

The WHO confirms that funding has been approved for the initial phase of the programme


The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that the first malaria vaccine, called RTS,S, will be evaluated in three large-scale pilot projects in sub-Saharan Africa starting in 2018, given that funding has been secured for the initial phase of the programme. ISGlobal ant its strategic partner in Africa, the Manhiça Health Research Center, have been working for 15 years on the development of RTS,S, in collaboration with other partners.

Antoni Plasència, ISGlobal’s general director, points out “We are proud of having contributed, together with our Mozambican colleagues, to the development of a tool that represents a key step in the fight against malaria. The vaccine can be a powerful ally in regions that are advancing towards malaria elimination. This is the goal we (ISGlobal and CISM) are aiming at in the south of Mozambique, with the support of the programme "la Caixa" contra la Malària”.   

According to WHO, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has approved US$ 15 million for the malaria vaccine pilots, thus ensuring the initial phase of the programme. At beginnings of this year, the Global Vaccine Alliance GAVI and the international organization UNITAID announced their engagement of contributing with US$ 27.5 and 9.6 million respectively, for the first four years of the pilot projects

In October 2015, the WHO advisory experts on inmunization and malaria recommended that  a large-scale implementation in three to five pilot regions in order to better assess its feasibility in routine vaccination programs, its impact on child mortality and its safety at large scale. This announcement followed three months after the European Medicine Agency issued its positive opinion on the vaccine. 

RTS,S is the first malaria vaccine that has satisfactorily completed a Phase 3 clinical trial, performed in 11 research centres across sub Saharan Africa, including the CISM in Mozambique. According to WHO, priority will be given to these countries for the implementation of the pilot projects, due to begin in 2018. The three selected countries will be announced in the following weeks. 

ISGlobal and CISM, with support from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, the University of Barcelona, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID) and the Health Ministry of Mozambique, among others, carried out the first proof-of-concept studies that demonstrated the safety and partial efficacy of this vaccine and that paved the way to the fist Phase 3 clinical trials of the sort to be carried out in Africa. Currently, ISGlobal is coordinating immunological studies of the RTS,S vaccine that will provide a better understanding of the protection mechanisms and will help improve this or future vaccines.