PATH and partners receive award for development of world’s first malaria vaccine

November 13, 2019 by PATH

Pilot introduction of RTS,S/AS01 has now started in selected areas of three African countries

Media contact: Lindsay Bosslet |

November 13, 2019, WASHINGTON, D.C. – PATH and partners today received the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) 2019 Innovating for Impact Partnership Award, for the development and phased introduction of RTS,S/AS01, the world’s first malaria vaccine. The vaccine was introduced by ministries of health in areas of Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi in 2019 as part of a pilot program coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The award was accepted by the director of PATH’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative, Dr. Ashley Birkett and Dr. Opokua Ofori-Anyinam, Director of Clinical Development at GSK Vaccines, at a recognition dinner at the Newseum in Washington, DC before an audience of US government officials, policymakers, media, and leaders in the global health and medical research communities. Drs. Birkett and Ofori-Anyinam accepted the award on behalf of all partners, including the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and WHO.

The award is presented annually to an innovative product development partnership that has advanced a high-impact, game-changing global health technology. Honorees are chosen by a committee of global health experts.

“On behalf of PATH and all our partners in the development of RTS,S from around the world, we are honored to receive this award. We have worked with GSK Vaccines for almost 20 years, and we’re proud to have contributed to bringing this first malaria vaccine to children,” said Birkett. “This vaccine reflects PATH’s commitment to reducing the deadly toll of malaria among the most vulnerable–young children—even as we work towards the ultimate goal of eradicating malaria completely. We look forward to continuing to advance malaria vaccine development in support of that goal.”

The RTS,S partnership was recognized for bringing the world’s first malaria vaccine from initial research to phased introduction. Children are now receiving the vaccine through routine immunization in selected areas with moderate to high levels of malaria, where it is expected to provide the greatest benefit. RTS,S has been shown to reduce malaria episodes in young children who received four doses of the vaccine.

Lessons from the development and pilot program of this vaccine will inform policy on future wider use in Africa, help the partners maximize its public health impact as a complement to existing malaria prevention methods, and advance development of next-generation vaccines. Although intensified efforts have reduced mortality rates significantly, malaria still sickens over 200 million people and claims more than 400,000 lives each year, most of them children in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The great progress we have seen in the fight against malaria has started to plateau over the last few years, and we need new tools, like the RTS,S malaria vaccine, to get us back on track and achieve global goals,” said Birkett. “Without new tools, it will be harder to realize the same level of progress over the next two decades and impossible to achieve complete eradication of malaria.”

PATH began working on RTS,S in 2001, when the organization first partnered with vaccine developer and manufacturer, GSK, to help advance the vaccine through clinical development. The pivotal Phase 3 efficacy and safety trial of RTS,S was conducted by 11 research centers across seven African countries and concluded in January 2014. The vaccine was given a positive scientific opinion (the equivalent of licensure) by the European Medicines Agency in 2015, following which WHO recommended large-scale phased introduction.

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