NHS could offer new meningitis B vaccine for free of charge

Meningitis B vaccine

A vaccine towards meningitis B will be created obtainable free of charge on the NHS, it has been reported Photograph: David Cheskin/PA

A new vaccine against the deadly ailment meningitis B is to be produced accessible cost-free on the NHS, provided it can be purchased from the producer at “a cost-powerful price tag”, the Department of Well being has announced.

The program is for the Bexsero vaccine to be introduced into the childhood vaccination programme following the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) discovered it effective in avoiding MenB in infants and must be rolled out to babies beginning at two months, topic to cost.

The deputy chief medical officer, Professor John Watson, mentioned: “We will now be operating closely with Novartis [the manufacturer] in the coming months and if negotiations are productive, we hope to perform with the other Uk well being departments to introduce a vaccine to avert MenB as rapidly as attainable. This would make the Uk the 1st nation in the globe to employ a nationwide vaccination programme.”

In an interim statement in July last 12 months, the JCVI had said the vaccine was not cost effective, an announcement greeted with despair by campaigners. Though the JCVI has now revised its viewpoint, the overall health department is not creating a blank cheque.

The JCVI chair, Professor Andrew Pollard, said: “If the new vaccine can be purchased at a minimal price and is for that reason cost effective for the NHS, it should be utilized in the regimen immunisation programme for babies in the Uk to avert condition. Program use of the MenB vaccine is anticipated to make an crucial contribution to the health of our population”

Infants below a single year of age are most at risk of MenB and the variety of cases peak at close to 5 or 6 months of age. With early diagnosis and antibiotic therapy, most make a complete recovery. But it is fatal in about 1 in 10 circumstances and can lead to lengthy-term health troubles this kind of as amputation, deafness, epilepsy and learning issues. Of the estimated one,870 situations of meningitis B every yr in the Uk, about one in 10 of individuals impacted will die and a single in 3 will be left with debilitating following-results this kind of as reduction of limbs or brain damage, according to campaigners.

Following the interim statement in July, charities lobbied difficult for a modify of place. A letter from 330 foremost medics and scientists was sent to the well being secretary, Jeremy Hunt, calling for the vaccine’s introduction.

Meningitis Study Foundation chief executive Christopher Head mentioned: “We are delighted that the response we submitted has had an influence, and the voice of individuals affected has been heard. It truly is a wonderful final result which will conserve lives and spare a great number of households the trauma of seeing a loved 1 critically disabled by the devastating right after results of MenB.”

Meningitis Now founder Steve Dayman MBE, who launched the meningitis movement in the Uk following losing his infant Spencer to meningitis in 1982, mentioned it was the “most monumental announcement in the battle against the ailment in the 31 years I have campaigned to eradicate meningitis. This vaccine will save thousands of lives and spare survivors and their families the discomfort of living with existence-modifying after-results. We thank our supporters for their determined campaigning and the JCVI for listening to our arguments on the true burden of this condition.”

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