New 'gamechanger' meningitis vaccine brings hope
Meningitis kills nearly 250,000 people a year, but this new vaccine could drastically curb that number.
Meningitis kills roughly 250,000 people each year, but a meningitis vaccination that is both effective and economical has been successfully tested in Africa, in hopes that the disease's mortality rate will decrease drastically.
The NmCV-5 vaccine, developed by the Serum Institute of India and the global health organization Path, would protect against the five primary meningococcal strains seen in Africa, including the developing X strain, for which no approved injectable is currently available.
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Mali and Gambia held trials for the vaccine in 2021 according to a New England Journal of Medicine paper. The researchers discovered that NmCV-5 elicited a powerful immune response against all five viruses.
Bacterial or viral infections inflame the membranes around the brain and spinal cord, resulting in meningitis. At least 60% of deaths related to meningitis around the world occur in Africa, mainly along the "meningitis belt" that runs from the Gambia and Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east.
According to studies, those in Africa are twice as likely as those in high-income nations to have major chronic repercussions from the condition, due to variables such as late diagnosis and treatment.
Most African nations require tens of millions of doses of existing vaccines that protect against four forms of meningitis. Although the MenAfriVac vaccine, which was introduced in 2010, significantly reduced instances of meningococcal A, large-scale outbreaks associated to other strains are widespread throughout Africa.
The NmCV-5 gene therapy is expected to be accessible in the next months.
Co-author of the study, Ed Clarke, expressed excitement about the results, explaining that researchers "Expect NmCV-5 to provide children and young adults with reliable protection against meningitis caused by the meningococcal bacteria in Africa.”
Clarke added that it could be "game-changing for epidemic meningitis control in the meningitis belt."
"We look forward to seeing the vaccine rolled out in the region as soon as possible," he said.
By 2030, the World Health Organization hopes to cut vaccine-preventable meningitis by 50% and fatalities by 70%.