New interventions are needed to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with malaria, as well as to accelerate elimination and eventual eradication. Interventions that can break the cycle of parasite transmission, and prevent its reintroduction, will be of particular importance in achieving the eradication goal. In this regard, vaccines that interrupt malaria transmission (VIMT) have been highlighted as an important intervention, including transmission-blocking vaccines that prevent human-to-mosquito transmission by targeting the sexual, sporogonic, or mosquito stages of the parasite (SSM-VIMT).
While the significant potential of this vaccine approach has been appreciated for decades, the development and licensure pathways for vaccines that target transmission and the incidence of infection, as opposed to prevention of clinical malaria disease, remain ill-defined. This article describes the progress made in critical areas since 2010, highlights key challenges that remain, and outlines important next steps to maximize the potential for SSM-VIMTs to contribute to the broader malaria elimination and eradication objectives.