The Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) recently asked the United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Health to help make a new vaccine for meningococcal group B disease (MenB) available sooner for young adults and children.
Use of the vaccine has been caught up in government negotiations for almost two years.
The MRF is particularly concerned because an outbreak of meningococcal group W (MenW) is causing deaths in the U.K. Scientists at the foundation, who sent an open letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, hope the MenB vaccine can be used to prevent the spread of MenW.
“Nobody should die or be disabled by a vaccine-preventable disease,” Chris Head, chief executive of MRF, said. “Especially one which now looks like helping combat the deadly cc11 strain of MenW too – a form of MenW which is currently recording higher fatalities than other forms of the disease. “
In addition to countless lives lost, the MRF estimates that the lifelong cost for someone seriously disabled by meningitis is approximately $7.1 million.
"We were euphoric when a MenB vaccine was recommended to the UK government", Head said. "But eight months on from the independent committee’s report, and nearly two years since the vaccine was licensed by the European Union, we are still no further forward. It’s heart-breaking, especially when we hear of new cases every single week... ."