First Malaria Vaccine in Africa: Partnership Opportunities to Expand Vaccine Access

health wg photohealth wg photo 2

Photo 1: From L to R: Dr. Kwaku Poku (KP) Asante, Kintampo Health Research Centre, Dr. Ashley J. Birkett, PATH, Dr. Opokua Ofori-Anyinam, GSK Vaccines, Dr. Mary Hamel, WHO, Mozambican Amb. Dos Santos Photo 2: From R to L, seated at table: Sally Ethelston, PATH. Florizelle Liser, CCA, Morayor Essieh, CCA

On Tuesday, November 19, 2019, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) hosted a health working group meeting, First Malaria Vaccine in Africa: Partnership Opportunities to Expand Vaccine Access. Panelists discussed the opportunity for improved malaria control with the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine as well as the implications of the vaccine for African countries.

President and CEO of CCA, Florizelle Lizer opened the event with welcome remarks followed by a panel discussion moderated by Sally Ethelston, Director of Resource Mobilization and Outreach, Malaria Vaccines, PATH. The panelists included Dr. Kwaku Poku (KP) Asante, Director of the Kintampo Health Research Centre, Dr. Ashley J. Birkett, Director of PATH’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative, Dr. Mary Hamel, Lead of Malaria Vaccine Implementation Program, WHO, and Dr. Opokua Ofori-Anyinam, Director of Clinical Development, GSK Vaccines. 

Dr. Hamel disclosed updates of the WHO’s flagship Malaria Vaccine Implementation Program. So far, the pilot introductions of the vaccine are limited to Kenya, Malawi, and Ghana and are showing a decrease in the number of malaria cases which coincide with increases in government and community dedication. Some of the discussed modes of malaria treatment include insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying, and intermittent preventive treatment (IPT), all of which are not individually 100% effective, but they do help.

Dr. Hamel also highlighted how, when used alongside the aforementioned intervention methods, the vaccine is even more effective. She stated that vaccine introductions will continue through 2023, but emphasized the need for investment, and for African countries to decide whether they want to introduce the vaccine in their country and determine their malaria strategy.

The panel discussed the broader challenges, opportunities, and needs of the pilot program. Dr. Ofori-Anyinam stressed the importance for GSK to have an end-to-end model that ensures that those who need the vaccine have access to it as well as their need to find partners that will help them share the risk of the program.

According to Dr. Asante, there is a need to break down communication for community education, and better modes of recording and managing data on the continent. Dr. Hamel presented 3 important needs of the program including, $6 million to complete the pilots, countries accumulating data to make decisions of whether to implement the vaccine, and support of long-term access to the vaccine.