The UN's health agency on Monday recommended a second malaria vaccine for children, which could save hundreds of thousands of lives by plugging a huge supply and demand gap.
Nearly half a million children in the African region die every year from the disease, which is caused by a parasite carried by mosquitoes.
"As a malaria researcher, I used to dream of the day we would have a safe and effective vaccine against malaria. Now we have two," said World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The new R21/Matrix-M vaccine, developed by Britain's Oxford University and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, has already been approved for use in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Nigeria.
In 2021, the RTS,S vaccine, produced by British pharmaceutical giant GSK, became the first to be recommended by the WHO to prevent malaria in children in areas with moderate to high malaria transmission.
"Demand for the RTS,S vaccine far exceeds supply, so this second vaccine is a vital additional tool to protect more children faster, and to bring us closer to our vision of a malaria-free future," Tedros said.
Almost half the world's population lives in a malaria high-risk area, with the vast majority of cases and deaths occurring in Africa.
The WHO's regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said the new vaccine held great potential for the continent by helping to close the huge demand-and-supply gap.
"Delivered to scale and rolled out widely, the two vaccines can help bolster malaria prevention and control efforts and save hundreds of thousands of young lives in Africa from this deadly disease," she said. (AFP)