Pharmaceutical company BioNTech said on Monday that it wants to use the mRNA technology behind its coronavirus vaccine to target malaria.
The Germany-based company, which developed the first widely approved coronavirus shot together with US partner Pfizer, aims to begin clinical trials for a “safe and highly effective malaria vaccine” by the end of next year.
“We are already working on HIV and tuberculosis, and malaria is the third big indication (disease) with a high unmet medical need,” BioNTech's chief executive, Ugur Sahin, told The Associated Press. “It has an incredible high number of people being infected every year, a high number of patients dying, a particularly severe disease and high mortality in small children.”
According to the World Health Organisation, there were about 229 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2019. The global body estimates that 409,000 people died from malaria that year, with children under the age of 5 accounting for 67% of deaths.