The GiveWell Blog

Why GiveWell funded the rollout of the malaria vaccine

Since our founding in 2007, GiveWell has directed over $600 million to programs that aim to prevent malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that causes severe illness and death. Malaria is preventable and curable, yet it killed over 600,000 people in 2021—mostly young children in Africa.

Following the World Health Organization’s approval of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine (RTS,S) in late 2021, GiveWell directed $5 million to PATH to accelerate the roll out of the vaccine in certain areas of Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi. This grant aimed to enable these communities to gain access to the vaccine about a year earlier than they otherwise would, protecting hundreds of thousands of children from malaria.

Although we’re very excited about the potential of the RTS,S malaria vaccine to save lives, it isn’t a panacea. We still plan to support a range of malaria control interventions, including vaccines, nets, and antimalarial medicine.

In this post, we will:

  • Explain how we found the opportunity to fund the malaria vaccine
  • Discuss why we funded this grant
  • Share our plan for malaria funding moving forward

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IPTi for malaria: a promising intervention with likely room to scale

Intermittent preventive treatment in infants (IPTi) for malaria provides preventive antimalarial medicine to children under 12 months old. It is among the most promising programs we’ve identified in our active pipeline of new interventions. It’s also underutilized, and the population it targets is especially vulnerable to malaria. That implies potential to open up large amounts of room for more funding if IPTi begins to be used more widely—our crude estimate is between $50 million and $200 million globally once it’s scaled—which is something we’re increasingly thinking about as we aim to direct $1 billion in cost-effective funding by 2025. In September 2021, we recommended a small grant to Malaria Consortium and PATH to assess the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of implementing IPTi at national scale in two countries. We’re hopeful that this scoping exercise will answer some of our many open questions about IPTi, and that this intervention continues to look promising as we learn more.

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