Leading meningitis charity Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) has welcomed the news that a potentially lifesaving vaccine to prevent MenB is one step closer with positive opinion by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The vaccine, 4CMenB produced by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited is the first ever vaccine against meningococcal B meningitis and septicaemia (MenB) designed to cover most strains of the disease in Europe.
MenB is responsible for an average of 1870 cases across the UK each year, mostly in young children.
Around 1 in 10 people affected will die, and a further 1 in 10 survivors will be left with serious after-effects, such as limb amputations, deafness, blindness, and brain damage.
The new vaccine will require a license from the European Commission before European governments can consider it for implementation.
The UK Government takes vaccination advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization.
If they recommend the new MenB vaccine, the earliest it could be implemented in the UK would be the end of 2013.
Chris Head, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation said: “We have a vision of a world free from meningitis and septicaemia so this news is a huge boost for our members and their families, and for doctors and scientists who have all worked tirelessly against this devastating disease. Since the first meningitis vaccine was introduced in 1992, many strains of meningitis including Hib, MenC and pneumococcal have been dramatically reduced. Once the MenB vaccine is licensed, it is essential that Government 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 must not allow children to die from this disease if it can be prevented.”
MRF Trustee Professor George Griffin, professor of Infectious Diseases and Medicine at St George’s University of London said: “This vaccine is a real step forward and will have a major impact on MenB cases. However, meningitis will remain a major clinical problem and research into microbial causes continues to be a priority alongside raising public awareness of the symptoms.”
Paralympics reporter and keen equestrian Diana Man (30) from Tunbridge Wells is building a new life after contracting MenB in November 2007 which left her without her lower legs, her fingers and with epilepsy.
She said: “My life has changed a great deal since getting MenB, but I have learned to adjust and manage just like anyone else. If a vaccine has been produced to prevent this disease it should be made available as soon as possible to prevent anyone else having to face the difficulties myself and others face in the future both physically, emotionally and financially.”