Meningitis cases are on the rise in the United Kingdom and the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) has put out a call for action.
A recent study has found that the meningococcal W (MenW) clonal complex 11 strain is similar to an epidemic currently ravaging South America. Fatality rates are approximately 25 percent in South America, and the chances of death in the UK are much higher.
Figures from Public Health England show that the strain affects teenagers and young adults, but vaccines are available. Current meningococcal ACWY vaccines Menveo and Nimenrix protect against all meningococcal A, C, W and Y infections. Another new study has revealed that Bexsero will also provide protection.
“Over recent months, we have been supporting many families whose children have died from this virulent strain of the disease,” said MRF Chief Executive Christopher Head. “We urge the government to act quickly in order to halt its rise. Meningococcal ACWY vaccines could quickly be deployed to provide broader protection as replacement to the MenC (meningococcal C) booster vaccine given to 14-year-olds at school.
“The new Bexsero vaccine can protect against this dangerous clone in addition to the broad coverage it is designed to provide against meningococcal B infection. This increases the urgency of the vaccine being made available to babies without delay. In March, the government’s advisory committee recommended that Bexsero be introduced to the childhood immunization schedule, and the government is obliged to do so if it can be obtained at a cost-effective price. However, price negotiations between the vaccine manufacturer and the Department of Health have yet to be resolved. We urge the government to act on this recent rise in cases of MenW infection and to conclude price negotiations over Bexsero with the vaccine manufacturer positively as soon as possible.”