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BackgroundFalciparum malaria remains a global health problem. Two vaccines, based on the circumsporozoite antigen, are available. RTS, S/AS01 was recommended for use in 2021 following the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization and WHO Malaria Policy Advisory Group (MPAG). It has since been pre-qualified in 2022 by the WHO. R21 is similar to RTS, S/AS01, and recently licensed in Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso following Phase 3 trial results.MethodsWe conducted a Phase 1b age de-escalation, dose escalation bridging study after a change in the manufacturing process for R21. We recruited healthy adults and children and used a three dose primary vaccination series with a booster dose at 1-2 years. Variable doses of R21 and adjuvant (Matrix-M ™) were administered at 10µgR21/50 µg Matrix-M™, 5µgR21/25µg Matrix-M™ and 5µgR21/50µg Matrix-M™ to 20 adults, 20 children, and 51 infants.ResultsSelf-limiting adverse events were reported relating to the injection site and mild systemic symptoms. Two serious adverse events were reported, neither linked to vaccination. High levels of IgG antibodies to the circumsporozoite antigen were induced, and geometric mean titres in infants, the target group, were 1.1 (0.9 to 1.3) EU/mL at day 0, 10175 (7724 to 13404) EU/mL at day 84 and (following a booster dose at day 421) 6792 (5310 to 8687) EU/mL at day 456.ConclusionR21/Matrix-M™ is safe, and immunogenic when given at varied doses with the peak immune response seen in infants 28 days after a three dose primary vaccination series given four weeks apart. Antibody responses were restored 28 days after a 4 th dose given one year post a three dose primary series in the young children and (NCT03580824; 9 th of July 2018; Pan African Clinical Trials Registry (PACTR202105682956280; 17 th May 2021).

Original publication




Journal article


Wellcome open research

Publication Date





KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kilifi, Kilifi, 80108, Kenya.