The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the use of a new vaccine called R21/Matrix-M for the prevention of malaria, raising hopes for the eradication of the mosquito-borne disease that kills nearly half a million children in Africa. The recommendation follows advice from WHO’s advisory groups on immunisation and malaria, which was endorsed by the organisation’s Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, after their meeting in late September. ALSO READ: How Rwanda reduced the malaria burden in five years ALSO READ: Scientists discover bacteria which could help tackle malaria The R21 vaccine, developed by scientists at the University of Oxford, is the second malaria vaccine recommended by WHO, following the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine, which received a WHO recommendation in 2021. “Both vaccines are shown to be safe and effective in preventing malaria in children and, when implemented broadly, are expected to have high public health impact,” the WHO said in a statement on Monday, October 2, adding that despite “unprecedented” demand for malaria vaccines, the supply of RTS,S is still limited. “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,” Dr Tedros was quoted in the statement. “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.” The R21 vaccine “showed good efficacy (66%) during the 12 months following the first three doses,” the WHO said, adding that a fourth dose administered a year after the third maintained efficacy. ALSO READ: Rwanda first African country to fully integrate drone technology in fighting malaria In 2021, malaria killed more than 600,000 globally, according to the WHO. In the African region, malaria cases increased by two million to 234 million. The number of deaths however decreased from 593,000 to 544,000 in 2020. The WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti welcomed the new vaccine saying it has the potential to prevent deaths on the continent. “This second vaccine holds real potential to close the huge demand-and-supply gap,” Dr Moeti said. “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.” The WHO also issued recommendations on the advice of its immunisation advisory group for new vaccines for dengue and meningitis, along with immunisation schedule and product recommendations for Covid-19. The organisation also issued key immunisation programmatic recommendations on polio, IA2030 and recovering the immunisation programme.