Ms. Natasha Poonawalla - Executive Director, Serum Institute of India. Chairperson, Villoo Poonawalla Foundation, Mr. Adar Poonawalla - CEO, Serum Institute of India and Hon. Eric Garcetti, US Ambassador to India with R21/Matrix-M™ malaria vaccine


Serum Institute of India ships its first set of R21/Matrix-M™ Malaria Vaccine doses to Africa 

Published: 12 June 2024


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Late May saw the distribution of R21/Matrix-M™️ Malaria Vaccine across the African region, marking a significant step in the global fight against malaria. The initial shipment was sent to the Central African Republic (CAR), followed by other African countries such as South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The milestone represents a successful collaboration between the Serum Institute of India (SII), US pharmaceutical company Novavax, and the University of Oxford. The event was celebrated with attendance by Hon. Eric Garcetti, US Ambassador to India, in Pune, India, highlighting the successful global partnership.

Developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford and Novavax’s Matrix-M™ adjuvant, the R21//Matrix-M vaccine is the second malaria vaccine to be authorized for use in children in malaria-endemic regions.

The flag-off ceremony of the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine took place at Serum Institute of India's facility in Pune. Besides the Hon. Eric Garcetti, US Ambassador to India, was Dr. Mehreen Datoo, Associate Fellow, Clinical Lecturer in Infectious Diseases, Nuffield Department of Medicine University of Oxford; Silvia Taylor, Executive Vice President, Chief Corporate Affairs & Advocacy Officer, Novavax; and other distinguished guests.

The R21/Matrix-M™ malaria vaccine, developed through collaboration between the Jenner Institute at Oxford University and the Serum Institute of India leveraging by Novavax’s saponin-based adjuvant technology, received support from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), the Wellcome Trust, and the European Investment Bank (EIB). To date, Serum Institute of India has manufactured 25 million doses with a capacity to scale up to 100 million doses annually.

“As two diverse democracies, the United States and India have flourishing private sectors that foster innovation, knowledge, and access to high-quality healthcare.  The development of the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine represents a great step forward in our battle against this deadly parasite.  The quality, affordable vaccines that will be produced through this partnership between Novavax and SII will prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths every year across the globe,” said the Hon. Eric Garcetti, US Ambassador to India.

Dr. Umesh Shaligram, Executive Director, R&D, Serum Institute of India said, "The shipment of the R21/Matrix-M™ Malaria Vaccine to Africa marks a momentous milestone in our collective fight against this life-threatening disease. This achievement is a testament to the power of collaboration and the efforts of our dedicated workforce at the Serum Institute of India, working in partnership with Novavax and the University of Oxford. As we embark on this critical mission to protect the most vulnerable members of our global community, we remain committed to our core values of innovation, affordability, and accessibility. This is a significant step towards a world free from the burden of malaria.

“The R21/Matrix-M™ vaccine is a vital new tool to help stop the devastating health and economic impact of malaria on nearly half of the world’s population, including the tragic loss of 1,300 children every single day,” said John C. Jacobs, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novavax. “Now more than ever, collaborations are imperative to address unmet needs in preventable infectious disease. Novavax is proud of our partnership with the University of Oxford and Serum Institute of India, and grateful for the support of Gavi and UNICEF in the vaccine’s rollout.”

Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, said “The start of the distribution at large scale of this high efficacy, very cost-effective vaccine should mark a turning point in the battle against malaria.

R21/Matrix-M™ vaccine received WHO recommendation for use in children in October, 2023, followed by the announcement of its high efficacy of its Phase 3 Trial data results earlier this year. This achievement was a step towards paving the way for vaccination of children in populations most at risk.

R21/Matrix-M™ malaria vaccine marks the culmination of 30 years of malaria vaccine research at the University of Oxford's Jenner Institute. The vaccine is easily deployable, cost effective and affordable, and has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives a year. This is important as vaccinating those at high risk of malaria will be important in stemming the spread of the disease, as well as protecting the vaccinated.

Picture credits: Serum Institute