The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee will vote on a new vaccine that was developed by Pfizer. The CDC advisory committee is composed of medical experts that are appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to advise the director of the CDC on public health issues related to vaccines.
The committee is tasked with evaluating vaccines and developing recommendations on when they should be used.
The CDC is recommending the new vaccine, 4CMenB (which replaces Bexsero in the US) for all infants between two and six months of age. The vaccine protects infants against meningitis caused by HIB, which includes four different strains, hence the formula 4CMenB.
The vaccine is currently under review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which could result in recommendations for all infants in Europe. However, some countries are taking things further and mandate HPV vaccinations for all school-aged children. This is without any scientific consensus on safety or real insight into whether it is even effective at all, as the decision to approve it was taken by a committee of non-scientists.
Motivation for these decisions is often financially driven as well as ideological (a fanatical devotion to pseudoscience). A recent example of this include an Australian politician who said that students should be forced to wear condoms and use dental dams in school in an effort to combat the rise of STDs in students.
It is therefore not surprising that the new vaccine recently introduced in Australia has quickly become mandatory for all children between six months and four years old. The government says it will be forced upon parents, who are strongly encouraged to get their child vaccinated to reduce the risk of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD), which can cause meningitis and septicemia.
The vaccine also protects against several other strains of the bacterium, including B: four types (including B: MenW and B: pertussis).
Meningococcal disease is very serious and potentially fatal, but it’s extremely rare in developed countries. Furthermore, it’s not clear exactly how effective the vaccine is since the trials were conducted in an African country with a low rate of IMD.
It has nevertheless been approved in Europe and Australia without adequate evidence that it is effective or even safe. Instead, the decision to vaccinate all children between six months and four years old was made by Australia’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Baggoley.
The pharmaceutical industry praised the decision to make it mandatory, saying that vaccination rates for this group are dangerously low. The vaccine is also very expensive and Vaccine Australia estimates that vaccinating against all strains of meningococcal B (including 4CMenB) will cost $490 million over four years.
4CMenB has been approved in Australia and the UK, but was recently rejected by European regulators. However, vaccine manufacturers can apply for conditional registration, which allows them to launch a product despite concerns that it might not be fully safe or effective.
The review body is also expected to accept the vaccine in spite of concerns that it is not effective at all. The EMA relied on research by the manufacturer to determine whether or not it should approve 4CMenB, but that study failed to meet international standards for safety and effectiveness.