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Delivery of latest malaria vaccine, R21, to Central African Republic marks latest milestone for child survival

Delivery of latest malaria vaccine, R21, to Central African Republic marks latest milestone for child survival


UNICEF today delivered more than 43,000 doses of R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine by air to Bangui, Central African Republic, with more than 120,000 doses to follow in the coming days. It is the first country to receive the R21 malaria vaccine for use in routine immunization of children, marking another step forward in preventing the disease and saving children's lives.

R21 is the second malaria vaccine recommended by the WHO for children living in endemic areas. With the earlier WHO recommendation for the RTS,S vaccine, there is now sufficient vaccine to scale up malaria vaccination in Africa. The introduction of both vaccines is funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

“With two products now available to countries, the expanded supply of malaria vaccines is a game-changer for child survival and health,” said UNICEF Director of Supply Leila Pakkala. “Previous concerns about supply meeting demand are firmly behind us. Now it is our priority that vaccines reach every vulnerable child.”

The R21 and RTS,S vaccines are proven to be safe and effective in preventing malaria in children. The RTS,S vaccine was delivered to more than 2 million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi in a four-year pilot program that showed a 13% reduction in all-cause mortality.

Malaria is one of the deadliest diseases in the world, killing almost half a million children under the age of 5 every year in Africa.

The Central African Republic has one of the highest incidence rates of malaria in the world. In 2022, an estimated 1,733,000 cases of malaria were reported in the country, an average of about 4,747 cases per day. The disease also claimed about 5,180 lives during the year, or 14 deaths every day.

“Having two safe and effective vaccines means we have greater security of supply and can be more confident in meeting countries' needs,” said Dr. Sania Nishtar, CEO of Gavi, Vaccine Alliance. “That's what matters most – that countries where our vaccines can be most effective can access them, saving thousands of lives every year and offering relief to families, communities and entire health systems.”

The Central African Republic, along with Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan and Uganda, are preparing to receive R21 shipments.

Approximately 4.33 million doses of RTS,S have so far been delivered to 8 countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi and Sierra Leone – that offer the vaccine in their routine childhood immunization programs as part of national malaria control plans . Burundi and Niger are next on the list for RTS,S shipments.

Vaccine deliveries to countries funded through the Vaccine Alliance are subject to government requests and willingness to include the vaccine in routine immunization programs.

Gavi, UNICEF, WHO and partners are supporting governments as they prepare to receive and introduce vaccines. This includes supporting developing countries with vaccine implementation plans and communication strategies, conducting health worker training and community engagement, and ensuring sufficient cold chain capacity.

“Malaria vaccines, introduced as part of the tools available in comprehensive national malaria control plans, will significantly reduce early childhood mortality and can help revitalize the fight against malaria. With the R21 vaccine now joining the RTS,S vaccine for use in government immunization programs, the spread of the malaria vaccine will continue in parts of Africa where malaria remains the leading cause of death in children. High community demand for malaria vaccines also provides an opportunity for children to receive other childhood vaccines that may be due, resulting in even more lives saved,” said Dr. Kate O'Brien, Director of the Division of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologics World Health Organization.

Malaria vaccines are an important adjunct in the fight against this disease. Careful planning is essential to ensure the successful introduction of malaria vaccines and their combination with other interventions, including insecticide-treated bed nets or targeted indoor spraying of residues, chemoprevention, diagnosis and rapid treatments to maximize public health impact.


Notes for editors:

Download photos and videos here (the content will be added after the shipment arrives).

Follow this connection for UNICEF's Vaccine Market Dashboard, which provides the latest market developments, including supplies and a global price overview.

For more information, contact:

Sara Alhattab, UNICEF New York, Tel: +1 917 957 6536, [email protected]

Meghana Sharafudeen, Gavi, Tel: +41 79 711 55 54, [email protected]

Matt Grek, Gavi, [email protected]

WHO Press Office, [email protected]

UNICEF works in some of the most difficult places in the world to reach the most disadvantaged children. In more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for all.

For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit:

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About Gavi, Vaccine Alliance

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate more than half of the world's children against some of the world's deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped vaccinate an entire generation – over 1 billion children – and prevented more than 17.3 million future deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 78 low-income countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles of vaccines against Ebola, cholera, meningococcal and yellow fever. After two decades of progress, Gavi is now focused on protecting the next generation, primarily zero-dose children who have not received a single dose of the vaccine. The Vaccine Alliance uses innovative funding and the latest technology—from drones to biometrics—to save lives, stop epidemics before they spread, and help countries move toward self-sufficiency.

Learn more at and connect with us at Facebook and X (Twitter).


Committed to the health and well-being of all people and guided by science, the World Health Organization leads and advocates global efforts to give everyone, everywhere, an equal chance for a safe and healthy life. We are the UN health agency that connects nations, partners and people on the front lines in more than 150 locations – leading the world's response to health emergencies, preventing disease, addressing the root causes of health problems and expanding access to medicines and healthcare. Our mission is to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.




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