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The world’s first malaria vaccine is to be considered for use in national immunisation programmes after being given the scientific seal of approval.

The medication, developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has been awarded “positive scientific opinion” by the European Medicines Agency, passing tests for safety and effectiveness.

The vaccination, known as RTS,S, has been approved for children aged six weeks to 17 months.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will now produce guidance on use of the vaccine in immunisation programmes once it is passed by national regulatory authorities.

GSK chief executive Sir Andrew Witty said: “Today’s scientific opinion represents a further important step towards making available for young children the world’s first malaria vaccine.

“While RTS,S on its own is not the complete answer to malaria, its use alongside those interventions currently available such as bed nets and insecticides, would provide a very meaningful contribution to controlling the impact of malaria on children.”

GSK has said it will not make profit from the vaccine, but has not yet confirmed its cost.