Meningitis Research Foundation speaks out in response to negative editorial in the BMJ on the introduction of a new menb vaccine

Meningitis Research Foundation speaks out in response to negative editorial in the BMJ on the introduction of a new menb vaccine

16 April 2014

Meningitis Research Foundation has had a response published in the BMJ in reply to an editorial by Isaacs and McVernon which appeared to criticise the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s (JCVI’s) recent positive recommendation of the MenB vaccine joining the voices of Professor Adam Finn, Professor Richard Moxon, Emeritus Professor Steven Black and JCVI members Professor Andrew Pollard, Dr Andrew Riordan and Dr Mary Ramsay in retaliating against the piece.

The editorial in the BMJ was critical of the JCVI recommendation implying that it was distorted by pressure from patient groups, the manufacturer and the public, after their interim negative opinion was published last summer. This misrepresents the scientific evaluation of feedback and new evidence that became available as the result of a transparent consultation process which the JCVI opened when they published their interim opinion[1].

Meningitis Research Foundation (amongst other stakeholders) submitted a response which contained new evidence on the staggering NHS costs of medical negligence litigation associated with the disease, as well as research on impact of the illness on family members which 1600 MRF members took part in. We also highlighted other areas that we considered to be undervalued in the interim model. In response to stakeholder submissions the JCVI asked for, the cost-effectiveness model was revised, and demonstrated that an infant vaccination programme could be cost effective if the manufacturer can supply the vaccine at a suitable price [2,3].

MRF members have campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of the devastating consequences of meningitis and septicaemia and this has been absolutely essential in keeping the prevention of this disease high on the public health agenda. MRF has also been at the forefront of political campaigning for a MenB vaccine, with our original Counting the Cost campaign, two petitions to Number 10 Downing Street from approximate 50,000 members. We also organised a letter from 330 leading doctors and scientists to the Health Secretary calling for a MenB vaccine. This campaigning has been vital in obtaining the support of politicians and government officials which is key to speedy progress in financing and implementing a national immunisation programme for infants, as well as the recommended evaluation of vaccine impact on carriage and transmission in adolescents.

Read the BMJ editorial, and responses.

  1. JCVI interim position statement on the use of Bexsero menigococcalB vaccine in the UK, July 2013
  2. JCVI position statement on use of Bexsero meningococcal B vaccine in the UK
  3. JCVI meeting minutes 11/12 February 2014. Available from:

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