GlaxoSmithKline is reporting encouraging rates of efficacy from the world's first national meningitis B immunisation programme with Bexsero, a year after its UK launch.

The drug giant says preliminary 'real-world' data from the programme show the estimated effectiveness of the vaccine to be at 83 percent against any meningitis B strain and 94 percent against vaccine preventable strains, for all children receiving the first two of three recommended doses.

Also, reported cases of the potentially life-threatening disease have fallen some 50 percent in the vaccine-eligible population in the first ten months of the programme, compared to the average number of cases over the last four years, underscoring its impact.

Uptake of the vaccine is high, with more than 90 percent of the eligible infants aged up to one year receiving two doses, GSK noted.

"The data substantially advance our understanding of the impact of meningitis B vaccines in a real world setting and may help inform public health authorities around the world about their future use," commented Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer of GSK Vaccines.

"The report shared provides reassurance to parents who have already vaccinated their children or wish to help protect their children from meningitis B in the future."

Bexsero is currently the only vaccine in Europe licensed to prevent meningococcal B disease, the leading cause of life-threatening meningitis in the industrialised world. The disease has a death rate of about 10 percent, while around 20 percent of those who survive may suffer a major physical or neurological disability, such as limb loss, hearing loss or seizures.

"It is great to see this early evidence that the national meningitis B immunisation programme for children under age one is effective," noted Linda Glennie, head of research at the Meningitis Research Foundation. "We hope that other countries burdened by meningitis B will now consider protecting their people from this deadly disease."