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Oxford malaria vaccine becomes first to reach WHO efficacy goal

The shot against the mosquito-borne disease was trialed in 450 children ages five to 17 months in Burkina Faso and shows a “favorable safety profile and was well-tolerated,” according to the team at the university’s Jenner Institute.

The first malaria vaccine to show more than 75% efficacy, a World Health Organization specified goal, has been developed by scientists at the University of Oxford, according to a study published in The Lancet journal.

The shot against the mosquito-borne disease was trialed in 450 children ages five to 17 months in Burkina Faso and shows a “favorable safety profile and was well-tolerated,” according to the team at the university’s Jenner Institute.

Finding more effective vaccines has been a critical goal in fighting a disease that kills about 400,000 people a year, largely in sub-Saharan Africa, with most being children under the age of five.

The candidate, called R21, is 77% effective against malaria, according to the study, which hasn’t been peer-reviewed. The Serum Institute of India, which is also manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca Plc shot against Covid-19, has agreed to make the malaria vaccine once approved.

“An effective and safe malaria vaccine would be a hugely significant extra weapon in the armory needed to defeat malaria,” Gareth Jenkins, from Malaria No More U.K., said in a statement. “Countries freed from the malaria burden will be much better equipped to fight off new disease threats when they inevitably emerge in the future.”

The vaccine will next start broad clinical trials in 4,800 children across four African countries.

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