GSK to ship malaria vaccine for African pilot programme
GSK’s malaria vaccine, Mosquirix (RTS,S), will launch next year in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, Africa.
The project aims to evaluate the feasibility of administering four doses of the vaccine onsite, the drug’s potential role in reducing childhood deaths, and Mosquirix’s safety in an everyday setting.
GSK expects the vaccine to be shipped from its Belgian facilities via a combination of land and air transport, in carefully temperature-controlled conditions.
A GSK spokesperson said, “Maintaining an unbroken cold chain throughout the vaccine journey is extremely important. We do this using sophisticated, insulated packaging for all storage and distribution to keep them at a set temperature range.”
The vaccine is the world’s first malaria vaccine. The drug, principally manufactured at GSK’s vaccines facility in Rixensart, Belgium, has been 30 years in the making.
It is the only vaccine to have demonstrated a protective effect against malaria among young children in Phase III trials.
The World Health Organization is helping coordinate the pilot programme. WHO expects the first phase to be completed by 2020, and a second by 2022.
The results will inform decisions on wider vaccine distribution.
In coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO), the pilot vaccine programme will be administered through local Ministry of Health routine immunization programs.
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has partnered with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Unitaid to provide $49.2m (€45.2m) for the first phase of the pilot programme.
GSK has invested more than $365m to date, with a further investment of $200m-$250m expected to complete development.
GSK is also foregoing profits. “We have committed the eventual price will cover the cost of manufacturing the vaccine together with a small return of around 5% that will be reinvested in research and development for second-generation malaria vaccines, or vaccines against other neglected tropical diseases,” a GSK spokesperson told us.