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Meningitis B vaccine to be licensed
A lifesaving 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, which is the most common and deadliest form of meningitis in the country, 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 the three decades" by the charity Meningitis UK.
It has received a "positive opinion" verdict from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), meaning that the vaccine 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, with children under five most at risk from the disease. It can sometimes kill babies and toddlers in under four hours.
The charity said the next stage will be to give the vaccine - trade name Bexsero - a marketing licence, with 99% of positive opinions lead to a licence for use. It is expected to receive its UK licence early next year.
Meningitis UK wants the vaccine to be introduced into the Government's routine immunisation schedule as soon as possible, so it will be automatically given to children. The jab is recommended for those aged two months and older.
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 - I have waited three decades to hear this.
"It is vital that 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. We will be campaigning hard to make the Government introduce it."