World's first malaria vaccine introduced in Africa
The RTS,S vaccine is now being rolled out as a pilot program in three African nations: Malawi, Kenya and Ghana.
AFRICA — The World Health Organization has implemented a large-scale malaria vaccine pilot program for 360,000 children across Africa.
The vaccine, called RTS,S, is being tested in Malawi, Kenya and Ghana, and is being administered to children upto the age of 2.
However, experts have raised concerns about the vaccine's efficacy, durability and safety. Four doses of the vaccine offer only 30 percent protection from severe malaria, for roughly three years.
Children who received vaccinations were found to have a 10 times higher risk of meningitis than those given a control vaccine.
A fact sheet by PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, an international non-profit organization, says the vaccine is designed to trigger the immune system when malaria parasites enter the bloodstream via mosquito bites.
The vaccine blocks the parasite from infecting a person's liver, where it could potentially multiply and reenter the bloodstream to infect red blood cells. This is when symptoms of malaria usually starts to appear.
Initial symptoms of malaria include fever, headache and chills. In more serious cases, children may develop severe anaemia or respiratory distress.
Children under the age of 5 are the most vulnerable to the disease, according to the World Health Organization.
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