§ Mr. Simon Hughes
asked the Prime Minister if she will establish a joint initiative by the Departments of Health and Social Security and of Education and Science, the Scottish Office and the Welsh Office on research into meningitis; and if she will make a statement.
§ The Prime Minister
I am not persuaded that a new joint initiative is necessary. Research into meningitis is, in fact, under way and arrangements already exist for liaison between the health Departments and the Medical Research Council.
The Department of Health and Social Security has funded a study to measure the prevalence of carriers, and immunity to particular strains of meningococcus, in Stonehouse, Stroud. The results are expected within two months. Linked with that study, a team at Edinburgh university is investigating aspects of vulnerability to meningococci. An application for funding the continuation of that research is being made to the MRC. The Centre for Applied Microbiological Research at Porton Down is also researching the practicability of producing a vaccine against a particular strain of meningococcus—group B— which has proved particularly troublesome and for which as yet no vaccine exists.
As part of their annual review of research activities, the health Departments will be discussing jointly with the MRC very shortly the possibility of further research into meningitis.