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75% drop in cases from UK meningitis B vaccine

New data has revealed that GlaxoSmithKline’s Bexsero (meningococcal group B vaccine) significantly reduces disease in infants.

The vaccine was evaluated in two real-world studies, one of which was conducted in the UK and found that over a three-year period the total number of meningitis B cases dropped 75%.

Underscoring the need for individual protection among adolescents, the impact results even included cases caused by strains not predicted to be covered by Bexsero.

GSK says that starting in September 2015, UK infants were offered the meningitis B vaccine at two and four months of age, followed by a booster at the age of one year, as part of the routine national immunisation programme.

Public Health England reported that the programme resulted in sustained protection lasting at least two years after the final booster at 12 months. This timeframe is a “crucial” point as the highest burden of meningitis B in England is during the first three to five years of life, meaning GSK will now use this data to file a label update.

Specifically, the results showed an estimated reduction of 277 cases since the beginning of the programme. Advocates hope that the real-world impact of the study, combined with parental confidence shown by high participation rates (more than 90% of all UK infants got the first two doses), will give encouragement to public health authorities around the world.

The vaccination provides “meaningful protection and reduces cases of this uncommon, but devastating disease,” said Dr. Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer, GSK Vaccines.

He continued, “Thanks to the UK’s national immunisation programme, parents and healthcare professionals have real world insight that vaccination makes a difference, in addition to the existing knowledge from clinical trials.”

As it stands, one in 10 of those who contract the disease will die, even with appropriate treatment. Additionally, up to 20% of those who survive bacterial meningitis may suffer from major physical or neurological disabilities, for example limb loss, hearing loss or seizures.

Currently, Bexsero is currently the only meningococcal B vaccine licensed in Europe for children under 10 years old.