New vaccine gets licence from European Commission
22 January 2013
Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) has welcomed the news that a potentially lifesaving vaccine to prevent MenB has today been issued a licence by the European Commission.
The vaccine, Bexsero® is the first ever vaccine against meningococcal B meningitis and septicaemia (MenB) designed to cover most strains of the disease in Europe. The incidence of MenB is higher in Ireland than anywhere else in Europe, and it has been the leading cause of meningitis both in the UK and in Ireland for decades.
The new vaccine, produced by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited, will now be considered for implementation in the UK by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and in Ireland by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC). If they recommend the new MenB vaccine to their respective governments, it is likely that the earliest it could be implemented is late 2013.
Meningitis and septicaemia kill more children under the age of five years than any other infectious disease and they have terrified parents for many years. Around 1870 people in the UK and 170 in Ireland are affected by MenB each year. One in three survivors will be left with after-effects, some as serious as limb amputations, deafness, blindness, and brain damage.
Meningitis Research Foundation estimates the life-time costs of caring for and supporting those seriously disabled is £3m/€3.6m each– a huge and unnecessary burden for the individuals themselves and for the UK, with MenB now becoming vaccine preventable.
Chris Head, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation said: “This news is a huge boost for our members and their families, and for doctors and scientists who have all worked tirelessly to overcome this devastating disease. Now that the MenB vaccine is licensed, it is essential for UK and Irish governments to give it full consideration as soon as possible, especially given the shocking lifetime costs to people who survive MenB and are left with serious, life-long disabilities. We urge the JCVI and NIAC to recommend that both Governments introduce the new MenB vaccine to the childhood immunisation schedule as soon as possible. Every day of unnecessary delay in introducing this vaccine will cost lives. We must not allow children to die from this disease if it can be prevented”
Jonnie Peacock, gold medal winner in the 100m at the Paralympics and newly appointed Patron of Meningitis Research Foundation said: “I contracted meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia at the age of five in October 1998 and as a result lost my right leg below the knee. Having survived the disease I know first-hand how awful it can be and the after effects on you and your loved ones. If a new vaccine is available to prevent children and adults dying or being left with serious disabilities I hope the UK government will make sure it is available to everyone as soon as possible.”