The board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has just approved an investment in the rollout of the RTS,S malaria vaccine, which was recommended for use by the World Health Organization in October 2021 for children from 5 months of age. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) lauds Gavi’s commitment to investing in this vaccine, which, in combination with other proven malaria prevention tools, can save many more thousands of lives every year. There are, however, challenges with the vaccine’s ease of use in resource-limited settings, affordability and supply, which will require further efforts by Gavi and other partners to overcome, in order to achieve maximum benefit.
Dr Saschveen Singh, Tropical Infectious Diseases Advisor, MSF:
“It’s good news that Gavi will invest in the rollout of the malaria vaccine, as malaria continues to be one of the most important killer diseases we deal with year in and year out in our medical programmes. As many of the countries hardest hit by malaria are also those with the weakest health systems, we hope to see countries being prioritized for vaccine rollout based on their health needs and disease burden, not just on the current readiness of a country to administer the vaccines themselves.
“We call on Gavi to make sure that high-burden malaria countries with the weakest health systems are provided extra support for a timely and effective implementation of this vaccine: this includes ensuring the correct 4-dose malaria vaccine implementation, avoiding any potential negative impacts on already fragile routine vaccination programmes, and supporting countries to further strengthen other existing malaria control measures. We hope that high-burden malaria countries are also involved in developing the strategy for introducing the vaccine to ensure their greatest needs can be addressed.
“There should be transparency around all contracts, covering information on supply and pricing agreed between Gavi and the vaccine manufacturer Glaxo SmithKline, in order to ensure improved affordability and availability of this vaccine. We urge Gavi to move forward with work proposed by its own Policy and Programme Committee on market shaping for the malaria vaccine, to ensure more products are on the market that will create a secure global supply and foster the lowest possible prices.
“Gavi must also work to shorten the current unacceptably long timelines for scale-up, technology transfer, and introduction of the malaria vaccine in countries, so that children can be protected at the earliest from this killer disease.”
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