NHS will not give meningitis B vaccine to all UK's children

Government’s immunisation advisors say the jab is 'highly unlikely to be cost effective'

A vaccine that protects against a deadly form of meningitis should not yet be made available to all children in the UK, the Government’s advisors on immunisation have said.

Meningitis B (MenB) kills one in every 10 sufferers and affects nearly 2,000 people in the UK every year – mostly babies, children and teenagers.

A new vaccine, Bexsero, is thought to be effective against 73 per cent of the bacteria that cause meningitis B.

However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said that the vaccine was “highly unlikely to be cost effective” and that “key data” about its effectiveness was still missing.

The vaccine, which has been 20 years in development, was licensed by the European Commission in January and clinical trials involved 8,000 people, the manufacturer Novartis said.

The JCVI called for more evidence on the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of the vaccine to be brought forward by September, after which it would make a final recommendation to the Government.

Meningitis charities, which have been campaigning for Bexsero to be available on the NHS as a routine childhood vaccination, expressed “disappointment” and “frustration” at the decision.

“Today’s news is a severe blow for everyone campaigning against this dreadful disease. We know every delay costs lives and leaves many more with life-long disabilities,” said Chris Head, the chief executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation.

One in five meningitis B survivors suffer after-effects including brain damage and hearing loss, while others must have limbs amputated to save them from infection.

The JCVI said in their interim position statement: “On the basis of the available evidence, routine infant or toddler immunisation using Bexsero is highly unlikely to be cost effective at any vaccine price based on the accepted threshold for cost effectiveness used in the UK and could not be recommended.”

The Department of Health’s director of immunisation Professor David Salisbury said: “This is a very difficult situation where we have a new vaccine against meningitis B but we lack important evidence. We need to know how well it will protect, how long it will protect and if it will stop the bacteria from spreading from person to person. We need to work with the scientific community and the manufacturer to find ways to resolve these uncertainties so that we can come to a clear answer.”

Sue Davie, Chief Executive of the Meningitis Trust/Meningitis UK, said: “This is extremely disappointing news after all our supporters and our hard work over decades to introduce a vaccine.

“But we’re pleased to have the opportunity to respond and press our case…We understand the committee’s concerns about impact and cost, but we believe this vaccine is safe and we know it will save lives. The more we delay the more lives are being lost.”

Novartis, the company which manufactures the drug, said it “was not asked for pricing information as part of the JCVI deliberation”.

“The interim position by the JCVI is inconsistent with its recommendations for other meningococcal vaccines. The meningitis C vaccination campaign in the UK, following JCVI recommendation, was a tremendous public health success saving thousands from serious illness and death,” said Andrin Oswald, Novartis’ head of vaccines and diagnostics.

“It is disappointing to see that the decision was mostly driven by financial considerations and without any pricing discussion with Novartis. The evaluation model does not do justice to the vaccine’s ability to prevent babies and young children from dying or surviving with severe lifelong disabilities.”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Buyer / Planner

    £20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity has ar...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager

    £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity working ...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Journals Manager

    £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The prime focus of the role is to assist...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

    Day In a Page

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks