WHO guidance on malaria vaccine RTS,S: MSF response

News and Press Release
Originally published

Good afternoon,

The World Health Organization has recommended the limited use - in demonstration projects - of GSK's RTS,S malaria vaccine. Please find a short statement from MSF in response, the main points of which you can see in the bullet points below.

· MSF cautiously welcomes the WHO recommendation for the limited use of RTS,S malaria vaccine
· MSF will not be using the RTS,S vaccine in its programmes
· Issues with the vaccine, including low protection and high required amount of doses, does not make the vaccine suitable for wide rollout in the areas that need it most (high disease burden, low resource settings)
· MSF calls for more R&D into a malaria vaccine that can give good protection and is easy to use in low resource contexts as a priority

Reactive statement by Dr. Micaela Serafini, Medical Director, MSF Operational Centre Geneva: “Considering the RTS,S malaria vaccine is at best effective about one third of the time, and requires four doses, we think that WHO has made a rational recommendation based on the evidence available for the vaccine’s limited use, but urges caution and close monitoring.

“Most areas with a high burden of malaria cases are in low-resource settings with weak health systems, so the successful introduction of RTS,S in these areas would be extremely challenging, requiring intensive resourcing better placed on scaling up existing malaria treatment and prevention activities.

“While we commend the researchers for developing the first malaria vaccine candidate to be tested in a large scale clinical trial, RTS,S ultimately does not meet the criteria needed to provide adequate protection for those who need it most. We now need to accelerate investment and development of new malaria vaccines that are safe, effective, affordable and easy-to-use in the highest-burden areas.”

For more information or to arrange interviews, please call Dalila Mahdawi on 0207 0674 265 or 07587 553 543.