WHO targets next generation with new malaria vaccines
The World Health Organization (WHO) 2013 Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap says the world should aim to have vaccines which reduce malaria cases by 75 per cent, and are capable of eliminating malaria, licensed by 2030.
This new target comes in addition to the original 2006 Roadmap’s goal of having a licensed vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum malaria, the most deadly form of the disease for children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015.
The 2013 update of the Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap which was launched today in Washington DC was made available to the Ghana News Agency by Dr Vasee Moorthy of the WHO.
“Safe, effective, affordable vaccines could play a critical role in defeating malaria,” said Dr Robert D. Newman, Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme. ”Despite all the recent progress countries have made, and despite important innovations in diagnostics, drugs and vector control, the global burden of malaria remains unacceptably high.”
It said the most recent figures by the WHO indicate that malaria causes an estimated 660,000 deaths each year from 219 million cases of illness.
The Roadmap said: “Scale-up of WHO recommended malaria control measures has been associated with a 26 per cent reduction in the global malaria death rate over the last decade.
“Effective malaria vaccines could be an important complement to existing measures, if they can be successfully developed.
“Final results from Phase III trials of the most advanced vaccine candidate, RTS,S/AS01, will be available by 2015.”
It said depending on the final trial result, and depending on the outcome of the regulatory review by the European Medicines Agency, a WHO recommendation for use and subsequent prequalification of this first vaccine could occur in late 2015.
The new roadmap aims to identify where additional funding and activities would be particularly key in developing second generation malaria vaccines both for protection against malaria disease and for malaria elimination.
These include next-generation vaccines that target both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax species of malaria.
“The new vaccines should show at least 75 per cent efficacy against clinical malaria, be suitable for use in all malaria-endemic areas, and be licensed by 2030,” says Dr Jean-Marie Okwo Bele, Director of WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals. “The roadmap also sets a target for malaria vaccines that reduce transmission of the parasite.”
The 2013 Malaria Vaccine Technology Roadmap cites several reasons for the update, among them changing malaria epidemiology associated with the successful scale-up of malaria control measures in the last decade, a renewed focus on malaria elimination and eradication in addition to the ongoing need to sustain malaria control activities, and new technological innovations since 2006 including promising early work on so-called transmission-blocking malaria vaccines.
WHO lists 27 malaria vaccine candidates currently in clinical trials, with most in early stages of testing; RTS,S/AS01 is the only one currently in late-stage development.
The Roadmap’s vision centres on developing safe and effective vaccines against Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax that prevent disease and death and prevent transmission to enable malaria eradication and is built around two strategic goals.