Exposure to the meningococcal group B vaccine during a New Zealand mass vaccination campaign was associated with a reduced likelihood of contracting gonorrhoea, compared with unvaccinated people, according to a new study of more than 14,000 people published in The Lancet. This is the first time that a vaccine has shown any protection against gonorrhoea, and may provide a new avenue for vaccine development.
If the effect is confirmed in other currently available and similar meningococcal group B vaccines, administering the vaccine in adolescence could result in significant declines in gonorrhoea, which has increasingly become drug resistant.
There are approximately 78 million new cases of gonorrhoea worldwide each year. An increasing number of strains of the bacteria N. gonorrhoeae have developed antimicrobial resistance to all drugs recommended for treatment. Untreated, gonorrhoea can lead to complications of infection, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility, and the infection can facilitate the transmission of HIV.