A vaccine against malaria could be introduced in the world's worst-hit countries in 2015, after the latest trial of a treatment produced by Britain's biggest drug company reduced the number of cases of the disease experienced by babies.

The results of trials published on Tuesday in Durban, South Africa, showed that the RTS,S vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline nearly halved the cases of malaria experienced by children aged between five and seven months and cut the number of cases in babies aged 6 to 12 weeks by a quarter.

The treatment's protection lasted for 18 months, although it waned slightly over time, and while that is not the sort of efficacy that parents in Europe or the US are used to getting in the vaccines given to their children, the malaria vaccine would make a significant difference to the outlook for those in areas where the tropical disease is rife.