R21 Vaccine

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Recently, a much-anticipated malaria vaccine developed by Oxford University has received its first approval.

About R21 vaccine: 

  • It is the first vaccine to achieve more than 75% effectiveness. (The goal set by the World Health Organisation).
  • It has been approved for use in children aged 5-36 months, the age group at highest risk of death from malaria.
  • Ghana became the first African country which gave approval for the vaccine.
  • Matrix-M, a saponin-based adjuvant developed by Novavax, is used in the vaccine to stimulate a stronger and longer-lasting immune response.
  • Antigen presentation in regional lymph nodes is improved by the Matrix-M adjuvant, which also encourages the entrance of antigen-presenting cells at the injection site.

Key facts about Malaria 

  • Malaria is an acute febrile illness caused by Plasmodium parasites, which are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. 
  • It is not contagious and cannot spread from one person to another
  • There are many different types of plasmodium parasite, but only 5 types cause malaria in humans.
    • Plasmodium falciparum: Mainly found in Africa, it's the most common type of malaria parasite and is responsible for most malaria deaths worldwide.
    • Plasmodium vivax: Mainly found in Asia and South America, this parasite causes milder symptoms than Plasmodium falciparum, but it can stay in the liver for up to 3 years, which can result in relapses.
    • Plasmodium ovale: Fairly uncommon and usually found in West Africa, it can remain in your liver for several years without producing symptoms.
    • Plasmodium malariae: This is quite rare and usually only found in Africa.
    • Plasmodium knowlesi: This is very rare and found in parts of Southeast Asia.


Q1) What are Plasmodium parasites?

Plasmodium parasites are a group of single-celled organisms that cause malaria, a serious and sometimes fatal disease that affects humans and other animals. There are over 200 species of Plasmodium parasites, but only a few species are known to cause malaria in humans.

Source: Ghana first to approve Oxford’s malaria vaccine for children