A cheap malaria vaccine that can be produced on a massive scale has been recommended for use by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The vaccine which has been developed by the University of Oxford is reported to become the second malaria vaccine to be developed.
According to reports, there are already agreements in place to manufacture more than 100 million doses a year.
The disease is caused by a complex parasite, which is spread by the bite of blood-sucking mosquitoes. It is far more sophisticated than a virus as it hides from our immune system by constantly shape-shifting inside the human body.
That makes it hard to build up immunity naturally through catching malaria, and difficult to develop a vaccine against it.
It is almost two years to the day since the first vaccine – called RTS,S and developed by GSK – was backed by the WHO.
There are two similar vaccines who have been developed now.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, describes this moment as “great pleasure”.
“I used to dream of the day we would have a safe and effective vaccine against malaria, now we have two,” he is quoted by BBC saying.
The WHO said the effectiveness of the two vaccines was “very similar” and there was no evidence one was better than the other.
However, the key difference is the ability to manufacture the University of Oxford vaccine – called R21 – at scale.
The WHO said the new R21 vaccine would be a “vital additional tool”. Each dose costs $2-4 (£1.65 to £3.30) and four doses are needed per person. That is about half the price of RTS,S.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, is quoted saying: “This second vaccine holds real potential to close the huge demand-and-supply gap.”
“Delivered to scale and rolled out widely, the two vaccines can help bolster malaria prevention, control efforts and save hundreds of thousands of young lives.”