UNICEF signs deal to deliver new malaria vaccine in breakthrough for child survival

12 October 2023

NEW YORK/COPENHAGEN, 12 October – UNICEF today announced an agreement to secure supply of the world’s second malaria vaccine, R21/Matrix-M. The deal is a major milestone towards meeting the high demand for doses of new vaccines against malaria – a disease which still kills one child under five every minute.

The long-term agreement signed with Serum Life Sciences for 2024 – 2028 is conditional on vaccine pre-qualification from the World Health Organization.

“It is heartbreaking and unacceptable that almost half a million children die of malaria every year. This agreement is a critical step towards protecting more children from this deadly disease,” said Director of UNICEF Supply Division Leila Pakkala.

Under the four-year agreement, UNICEF expects to begin delivering the R21/Matrix-M vaccine in mid-2024, with immunizations beginning in the same period. This builds on UNICEF's work to expand access to malaria vaccines, and complements the landmark first malaria vaccine RTS,S. Deliveries of RTS,S are anticipated to start in late 2023.

The R21/Matrix-M and RTS,S malaria vaccines are the result of 35 years of research and development. They are the first vaccines developed against a parasitic disease. Both act against Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite globally and the most prevalent in Africa. The vaccines are a critical addition to the toolbox of measures in the fight against malaria.

UNICEF is the world’s largest single vaccine buyer, procuring more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine child immunization and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries. This procurement of the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine will help boost global supply and accelerate equitable malaria vaccine access for children and families. 

Media contacts

Helen Wylie
UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 917 244 2215
Jenny Gamming
Communication Manager
UNICEF Supply Division
Tel: +45 30 787 661

About UNICEF Supply Division

UNICEF's supply and logistics headquarters - Supply Division - is located in Copenhagen, which is also home to the largest humanitarian warehouse in the world.

Supplies are essential to fulfil children’s rights. Supporting child survival and development programmes around the world, UNICEF-procured supplies are critical in providing for children’s health, education and protecting them from abuse, exploitation, and neglect.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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