Story at a glance

  • Messenger RNA vaccines deliver instructions to the body to make a protein that is part of the virus, triggering an immune response.
  • “We will do whatever it takes to develop a safe and effective mRNA-based Malaria vaccine that will prevent the disease, reduce mortality and ensure a sustainable solution for the African continent and other regions affected by this disease,” BioNTech’s CEO and co-founder said.
  • There were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria and at least 409,000 deaths in 2019.

BioNTech plans to develop the first mRNA-based vaccine to prevent malaria, a life-threatening yet preventable disease that remains a major public health problem for many parts of the world. 

The German biotechnology company that developed the United States’ first authorized COVID-19 vaccine along with Pfizer announced Monday it's aiming to start patient trials of a malaria shot using messenger RNA by the end of 2022. 

Messenger RNA vaccines deliver instructions to the body to make a protein that is part of the virus invading microbe, triggering an immune response. mRNA vaccines are much quicker and simpler to develop than traditional vaccines, hence the development of the COVID-19 vaccine in record speed. 

While development of the technology has been in the works for decades, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first mRNA vaccine to complete clinical trial stages and be licensed for use after proving to be incredibly effective against the disease. 

“The response to the pandemic has shown that science and innovation can transform people’s lives when all key stakeholders work together towards a common goal,” Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, said in a statement. 


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“We will do whatever it takes to develop a safe and effective mRNA-based Malaria vaccine that will prevent the disease, reduce mortality and ensure a sustainable solution for the African continent and other regions affected by this disease,” Sahin said. 

The World Health Organization (WHO), European Commission and other organizations have been involved in the early planning of the project. 

BioNTech said it is also seeking to establish an mRNA vaccine production facility in Africa, which is among the regions that have struggled to secure an adequate supply of vaccine doses. 

There were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria and at least 409,000 deaths in 2019, according to the WHO. Ninety-four percent of malaria cases and deaths worldwide occurred in Africa. 


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Published on Jul 26, 2021