Health and Healthcare

New meningitis vaccine brings hope, plus the other health stories you need to know about

Test tubes are seen in a lab.

A new meningitis vaccine brings hope. Image: Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash

Shyam Bishen
Head, Centre for Health and Healthcare; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
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Health and Healthcare

This article is part of: Centre for Health and Healthcare

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  • This global round-up brings you health stories from the past fortnight.
  • Top health news: new meningitis vaccine brings hope; New Zealand unveils curbs on vaping; new hope in cancer detection and diagnosis.

1. New meningitis vaccine brings hope of eliminating disease in Africa

A trial of a new vaccine against meningococcal disease, a cause of meningitis and blood poisoning, has seen positive results against five strains of meningococcal bacteria – A, C, W, Y and X.

The trial found a safe and strong immune response amongst participants – 1,800 healthy 2-29-year-olds in Mali and The Gambia. It compared the immune response of the new vaccine NmCV-5 against an existing vaccine – MenACWY-D.

It found generally higher immune responses for a single dose of NmCV-5 than those generated by MenACWY-D. NmCV-5 also induced a strong immune response to the emerging meningococcal X strain. There's currently no licenced vaccine against the X strain.

“We are excited about the results of this study. We expect NmCV-5 to provide children and young adults with reliable protection against meningitis caused by the meningococcal bacteria," Dr Ed Clarke, a paediatrician from the Vaccines and Immunity Theme at MRC Unit The Gambia at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and study co-author said. "The new vaccine will be a critical tool to interrupting and preventing devastating epidemics of meningitis in the meningitis belt."

Graph showing deaths from meningitis, by age, world, 1990-2019.
Meningitis remains a major killer. Image: Our World in Data

2. New Zealand unveils curbs on vaping

New Zealand has announced new plans to reduce vaping by young people, with a range of measures including limiting sales near schools and banning some disposable vapes, Reuters reports.

From August, all vapes sold will be required to have removable or replaceable batteries. The country's health minister, Dr Ayesha Verrall, explained that this would limit supplies of the disposable vapes favoured by younger people.

The changes will be phased in over six months, Dr Verrall added.

"We’re creating a future where tobacco products are no longer addictive, appealing or as readily available, and the same needs to apply to vaping," Verrall said in a statement.

The country has already banned future generations from smoking amid plans to be 'smokefree' by 2025.

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3. News in brief: More health stories from around the world

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Pfizer's vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). It comes around a month after the FDA approved GSK's shot for the RSV.

The head of research and development at Novavax has said an updated COVID-19 vaccine, which is already in production, looks likely to offer protection against COVID-19 variants that are growing quickly in the US.

A National Health Service trial in England and Wales for a blood test to detect more than 50 types of cancer has shown promise, researchers have said.

It comes as another UK trial that's looking at cancer breath tests goes through its final clinical trials.

Research presented to the British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) conference has found that serious heart attacks are more likely at the start of the working week than at other times.

4. More on health from Agenda

The World Health Organization has released an expanded list of interventions and policies that can help prevent and tackle non-communicable diseases. They include taxes and ban on advertising for tobacco and alcohol as well as several cancer control interventions.

At a side event at this year's World Health Assembly, the World Economic Forum brought together CEOs and health ministers to discuss building smarter, more equitable, and more resilient health systems. The event highlighted the role of tackling public-private partnerships.

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