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Vaccine against deadly meningitis strain approved for use in Europe

The meningitis vaccine is the first of its kind, and could save hundreds of lives.

Meningitis vaccine Enlarge
The FDA has approved the use of a new combination vaccinate against meningitis in children as young as six weeks. (Jeff J Mitchell/AFP/Getty Images)

A vaccine against a deadly strain of meningitis has been licensed for use in Europe. It is the first of its kind to protect against meningococcal B meningitis. 

The manufacturer, Novartis, has been given the go-ahead for the marketing of Bexsero, which can be administered to anyone, including infants as young as two months old, Medical News Today reported

Of the five types of meningitis, type B is the only one which has not previously had an effective vaccine. Previous vaccines protected against only some of the strains of bacteria that cause Meningitis B, Bloomberg Businessweek reported, whereas Bexsero covers 73 percent of cases. 

“This ground-breaking vaccine is the most important development since I lost my son to meningitis 30 years ago," said Steve Dayman, founder of the charity Meningitis UK, the Telegraph reported. “The news is the most significant step forward in the fight I have ever heard." 

He urged the British government to introduce the vaccine "as soon as possible," saying that any delay means lives will be lost."&nbsp

"It's wonderful news that this new vaccine has now been licensed, but licensing alone will not save lives," added Sue Davie, chief executive of the Meningitis Trust, the Guardian reported. "That will only happen when the vaccine is introduced into the childhood immunization program. And this can't happen soon enough."

Type B meningitis is the most common in Europe, and accounts for between 3,000 to 5,000 cases a year and has caused 1,000 deaths since 2000, the Telegraph reported. 

Novartis is also seeking to test the vaccine in the US, Bloomberg reported. 

More from GlobalPost: Fungal meningitis outbreak in US could affect thousands of people

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/130122/vaccine-against-deadly-meningitis-strain-approved-europe