A VACCINE against Meningitis B is set to be licensed for use in the UK in a move that could save thousands of lives.
The disease affects an average of 1,870 people a year, many of them children, and results in death for one in 10 sufferers.
The approval of the new 4CMenB vaccine, which is developed by pharmaceutical company Novartis, has been hailed as the “biggest leap forward in the field in three decades” by the charity Meningitis UK.
It yesterday received a “positive opinion” verdict from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), meaning it is considered safe and effective. It will be the first Meningitis B vaccine approved for use in the UK, which has one of the highest incidence rates in the world.
One in four sufferers are left with life-changing after-effects, such as brain damage and limb loss. The under-fives are most at risk and babies can be dead within four hours.
Meningitis UK wants the vaccine, which is recommended for those aged two months and older, introduced into the Government’s routine immunisation schedule as soon as possible, so it will be automatically given to children.
Meningitis UK founder Steve Dayman, who lost his baby son to meningitis and septicaemia in 1982, said: “This is a landmark moment in the fight against meningitis. It is vital the vaccine is introduced in the UK immunisation schedule as soon as possible. It will save countless lives and prevent many people enduring the suffering caused by this devastating disease.”