Improved ways of measuring the impact of meningococcal disease

05 Jun 2019
Improved ways of measuring the impact of meningococcal disease

Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) has co-authored a research paper recommending improved ways of measuring the impact of meningococcal disease.

These recommendations could ultimately help governments to be able to make more informed decisions about introducing vaccines that protect against this deadly cause of meningitis and septicaemia.

Meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia can kill in hours and can cause a range of health problems of differing severity levels in those that survive it - the impact of which can alter the lives of those affected and their families and friends.

As a result of the diverse ways in which survivors are affected it’s difficult to accurately measure the impact of meningococcal disease on quality of life for those who get it, and the impact is easily underestimated, largely due to gaps and weaknesses in the current methods of assessment.

This can make it more challenging for health economic assessments to conclude that vaccines for uncommon but severe infections such as meningococcal B meningitis (MenB) should be introduced.

Decision-making processes on whether to recommend the MenB vaccine in many European countries are ongoing.

The paper, published in Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, summarises opinions from an expert panel including epidemiologists, clinicians, paediatricians, psychologists, MRF as patient representatives, and health economists.

"The initial assessment of the MenB vaccine in the UK is one example of how these vaccine assessments can be flawed...The results from the expert panel provide useful guidance on how to properly measure the impact of meningococcal disease in future and this could help to get life-saving vaccines introduced more widely." Claire Wright, MRF

Claire Wright from MRF who co-authored the paper said, “The initial assessment of the MenB vaccine in the UK is one example of how these vaccine assessments can be flawed. When the vaccine was first licensed, the UK government’s vaccine advisory committee did not recommend introducing the vaccine on the NHS based on cost.

“MRF fought hard to change this by submitting evidence that highlighted some aspects of the devastating burden of meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia on individuals and their families which hadn’t been captured in the initial analysis.

“This new paper shows that there needs to be more detailed examination of after effects from meningococcal disease, including the direct, long-term consequences on the quality of life for people affected, as well as the indirect impact on their parents, siblings or spouse.

“Experts argued that the severity of after effects, and the impact of having multiple health problems as a result of the disease should be taken into account.

“The results from the expert panel provide useful guidance on how to properly measure the impact of meningococcal disease in future and this could help to get life-saving vaccines introduced more widely."

Research programme
Research programme
We fund research into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and sepsis
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