Scientists from the World Health Organisation say complete eradication of polio could be in sight.
A study published in The Lancet medical journal shows a new version of the existing vaccine has helped reduce the number of polio cases by more than 90%.
It appears that the new vaccine is about 30% more effective in protecting against polio than the most commonly used vaccine to date.
The new vaccine has already been used in immunisation campaigns in Afghanistan, India and Nigeria.
Dr Bruce Aylward is Director of the Polio Eradication Initiative at the World Health Organization.
Experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and India carried out the study to evaluate the effectiveness of the new bivalent vaccine, which protects against types 1 and 3 of the polio virus.
Type 2 has already been largely wiped out since the introduction of mass immunisation in 1988, but types 1 and 3 still pose a threat.
The latest study compared the effectiveness of the new vaccine with existing vaccines in 830 newborn babies.
Researchers found that the new bivalent vaccine provided superior immunity to the existing trivalent vaccine, protecting against type 1 polio in 90 per cent of babies, and against type 3 in 74 per cent of babies.
This compared with just 63 per cent immunity against type 1 and 52 per cent immunity against type 3 for the trivalent vaccine.
The study authors concluded that the trial confirmed the ‘superiority’ of the new vaccine.
The publication of the trial coincides with a new drive to vaccinate children in Africa against the disease.
Fifteen countries across the continent have launched a mass immunisation campaign which aims to reach 72 million children.
However concerns remain that a US$810 million (£510 million) funding gap could threaten efforts to meet the aims of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative Strategic Plan.
Ambroise Tshimbalanga Kasongo, chairman of Rotary’s African PolioPlus committee, commented: ‘In Africa, the end of polio is in sight, but we are not there yet.
‘To think we could not reach the finishing line because of lack of financial resources is unacceptable.’