Malaria Vaccine GSK
The malaria vaccine (RTS, S), next to a syringe.

Malaria Vaccine Coming To Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa


It is highly likely that Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa will soon have access to the first malaria vaccine after its success in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

Presently, approximately 1 million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have been given at least one dose of the first malaria vaccine known as RTS,S/AS01E and is marketed under the brand name “Mosquirix”. The vaccine is targeted towards children as over three quarters of malaria deaths occur in young children who are under the age of five.

Results gained from the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as pilot studies that were done in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have showed that the pioneering vaccine caused a significant reduction in severe malaria and hospitalisation among vaccinated children.

John Bawa, Africa lead for vaccine implementation at Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health, PATH, disclosed that the findings pave the way for an expanded distribution scheme that will see countries like Mozambique, Nigeria and Zambia receive the vaccines. Mr. Bawa who spoke during a webinar for the commemoration of the 2022 World Malaria Day, noted that, “The next is to deploy the vaccine to other endemic countries. Countries that are interested in the vaccine are expected to apply to GAVI from June to September.”


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During the webinar organised by the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), PATH and Kintampo Health Research Centre (KHRC), Mr. Bawa said that Nigeria, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia have written officially to express their interest in the vaccine. He stated that the malaria vaccine coverage in Malawi was at 88% in 2020 and 93% in 2021. In Ghana, it was 71% in 2020 and 76% in 2021 and in Kenya, it was 69% in 2020 and 83% in 2021. These vaccines were distributed in a WHO pilot scheme. The organisation has now recommended the vaccine for use among children in areas with a moderate to high transmission rate of malaria.

“These numbers indicate strong community demand and capacity of childhood vaccination platforms to effectively deliver the vaccine to children. For some countries, Gavi is paying about 80 per cent of the cost of the vaccine, while it is expected that the country’s government would pay the remaining 20 per cent.”

Wellington Oyibo, the Director of the Centre for Malaria Diagnosis, Research, Capacity Building and Policy, University of Lagos, explained that both the Nigerian government and the Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation Malaria Eradication Project have applied to purchase the vaccine for Nigeria. Mr. Oyibo stated that while the initial rollout of the vaccine may not go around the country, the Nigerian government selected the states with the highest malaria burden to begin with.

He said that African leaders should ensure that their counterpart funds are available to purchase the vaccine. In his own view, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, said, “This vaccine is not just a scientific breakthrough, it is life-changing for families across Africa. It demonstrates the power of science and innovation for health.”

According to the WHO, about $155.7 million has been secured from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to support the introduction, procurement and delivery of the malaria vaccine for Gavi-eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa. To boost the vaccine supply and coverage, GlaxoSmithKline, producers of the RTS,S vaccine, will transfer technology and patent to Bharat Biotech in India to manufacture the vaccines. The funding would help support the introduction, procurement and delivery of the vaccine for Gavi-eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa in 2022-2025.