The R21/Matrix-M Vaccine: A Breakthrough in Malaria Eradication Efforts


In a collaboration between the University of Oxford, the Ministry of Health in Rwanda, and the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, groundbreaking data on the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine, marks a significant shift in the malaria paradigm.

Malaria vaccine

Malaria Vaccine

Image Credits: Unsplash

The endorsement of the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine by the World Health Organization (WHO) signifies a major step forward in the fight against malaria. If implemented effectively, this vaccine could substantially reduce the burden of malaria-related morbidity and mortality worldwide. However, challenges such as vaccine distribution, access, and acceptance in affected regions remain significant hurdles.1

Published in February 2024 in The Lancet, the phase III trial of the R21/Matrix-M vaccine demonstrates unprecedented safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness. This development is particularly significant given that malaria claims approximately 600,000 lives each year, predominantly among African children.

“In this phase III licensure trial of the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine, the primary analysis shows vaccine efficacy against clinical malaria of 75% (72–79) at seasonal sites and 67% (59–73) at standard sites across the entire cohort aged 5–36 months over 12 months,” according to The Lancet investigators. “This finding suggests that the R21/Matrix-M vaccine might not only substantially decrease the number of clinical malaria cases, but could also contribute to programmes to reduce malaria transmission when used with other interventions, particularly if deployed across a wider age range.”2

3 Key Takeaways

  1. The endorsement of the R21/Matrix-M vaccine by the WHO marks a significant advancement in the global fight against malaria.
  2. Despite the promising efficacy of the R21/Matrix-M vaccine, challenges such as vaccine distribution, access, and acceptance in affected regions persist as significant hurdles.
  3. While the R21/Matrix-M vaccine represents a promising tool in the fight against malaria, concerted efforts and resources will be needed to ensure its widespread implementation and maximize its impact in eradicating this deadly disease.

A comprehensive overview of the vaccine's development journey will be presented, including insights from phase IIB and phase III trials. Professor Sir Adrian Hill will discuss future trials exploring the vaccine's utility across diverse populations. Notably, this milestone represents a turning point in the trajectory of malaria, as there are now two effective malaria vaccines approved for rollout: RTS,S/AS01, and R21/Matrix-M.

Co-developed by the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India, the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine is the first to meet the WHO-specified 75% efficacy goal. However, while these vaccines show promising data, it is essential to maintain the use of other preventive measures.

Looking ahead, the focus shifts towards vaccine implementation and continued research initiatives. With the capacity to manufacture 100-200 million doses annually, the R21/Matrix-M vaccine is positioned to reach every corner of Africa, ensuring equitable access for vulnerable populations.

“Infants and young children continue to suffer the greatest mortality; in 2022, an estimated 4 out of 5 malaria-related deaths in the African Region were among children under 5 years of age,” according to WHO. “Inequities in access to education and financial resources further exacerbates risk: children under 5 years of age from the poorest households in sub-Saharan Africa are 5 times more likely to be infected with malaria than those from the wealthiest households”3

World Malaria Day serves as a reminder of the disease's toll. Overall, the R21/Matrix-M malaria vaccine represents a promising tool in the global effort to eradicate malaria. Still, concerted efforts and resources will be needed to ensure its successful deployment and impact.


  1. Aderinto N, Olatunji G, Kokori E, et. al. A Perspective on Oxford’s R21/Matrix-M™ Malaria Vaccine and the Future of Global Eradication Efforts. Published January 12, 2024. Accessed April 25, 2024. Doi:
  2. DPhil M, Dicko A, Tinto H, et. al. Safety and Efficacy of Malaria Vaccine Candidate R21/Matrix-M in African Children: A Multicentre, Double-Blind, Randomised, Phase 3 Trial. The Lancet. Published February 1, 2024. Accessed April 25, 2024. Doi:
  3. WHO. World Malaria Day 2024. Published April 25, 2024. Accessed April 25, 2025.
Related Videos
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.