Commenting on the research, Linda Glennie, Director of Research at MRF says: “It is reassuring to see this latest evidence that the vaccine is protecting children, and that protection is sustained for at least two years. This means that fewer families will be affected by this devastating disease and fewer children will be living with severe after effects.”
The PHE study is published alongside a separate study from Australia which looked at how the vaccine could be used. This Australian ‘B Part of It’ study assessed whether vaccinating teenagers with Bexsero prevented them from carrying MenB bacteria. It was hoped that by immunising the age group most likely to carry the bacteria, we could prevent it from spreading around the population, creating community protection. The results suggest that, for Bexsero, protection against MenB will be reliant on direct protection of vaccinated individuals, rather than stopping the bacteria from spreading to others.
Linda Glennie says: “This well-conducted Australian research didn’t find evidence for wider protection of the population by vaccinating teenagers. This is disappointing as we hoped it could offer broader protection to save more lives. However, such studies may not be able to capture more subtle, population based effects on carriage and circulation of the bacteria that could only be revealed by large scale immunisation of the population over several years. The introduction of Bexsero into the routine immunisation schedule of South Australia will provide an opportunity to evaluate this and give us more information on how vaccination can help protect people from this devastating illness.”
“Ongoing UK research will also contribute to our understanding of vaccine impact and effectiveness, and will inform development of more vaccines that could prevent MenB cases in the future.”
In the UK, a major study ‘Be on the TEAM’ is now underway, which is examining the potential impact of MenB vaccines on teenagers who, along with younger children, are known to host or carry the bugs that cause meningitis more than other age groups.
MRF is also funding a study to find out whether it a single dose of Bexsero would be sufficient to protect teenagers against MenB if they were vaccinated as infants. Further research is also underway looking at whether Bexsero can help protect against closely related bacteria that cause gonorrhoea.