Effectiveness of a group B outer membrane vesicle meningococcal vaccine against gonorrhoea in New Zealand: a retrospective case-control study

Lancet. 2017 Sep 30;390(10102):1603-1610. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31449-6. Epub 2017 Jul 10.


Background: Gonorrhoea is a major global public health problem that is exacerbated by drug resistance. Effective vaccine development has been unsuccessful, but surveillance data suggest that outer membrane vesicle meningococcal group B vaccines affect the incidence of gonorrhoea. We assessed vaccine effectiveness of the outer membrane vesicle meningococcal B vaccine (MeNZB) against gonorrhoea in young adults aged 15-30 years in New Zealand.

Methods: We did a retrospective case-control study of patients at sexual health clinics aged 15-30 years who were born between Jan 1, 1984, and Dec 31, 1998, eligible to receive MeNZB, and diagnosed with gonorrhoea or chlamydia, or both. Demographic data, sexual health clinic data, and National Immunisation Register data were linked via patients' unique personal identifier. For primary analysis, cases were confirmed by laboratory isolation or detection of Neisseria gonorrhoeae only from a clinical specimen, and controls were individuals with a positive chlamydia test only. We estimated odds ratios (ORs) comparing disease outcomes in vaccinated versus unvaccinated participants via multivariable logistic regression. Vaccine effectiveness was calculated as 100×(1-OR).

Findings: 11 of 24 clinics nationally provided records. There were 14 730 cases and controls for analyses: 1241 incidences of gonorrhoea, 12 487 incidences of chlamydia, and 1002 incidences of co-infection. Vaccinated individuals were significantly less likely to be cases than controls (511 [41%] vs 6424 [51%]; adjusted OR 0·69 [95% CI 0·61-0·79]; p<0·0001). Estimate vaccine effectiveness of MeNZB against gonorrhoea after adjustment for ethnicity, deprivation, geographical area, and sex was 31% (95% CI 21-39).

Interpretation: Exposure to MeNZB was associated with reduced rates of gonorrhoea diagnosis, the first time a vaccine has shown any protection against gonorrhoea. These results provide a proof of principle that can inform prospective vaccine development not only for gonorrhoea but also for meningococcal vaccines.

Funding: GSK Vaccines.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / prevention & control
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology
  • Gonorrhea / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meningococcal Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Meningococcal Vaccines / adverse effects
  • New Zealand
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vaccines, Conjugate / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, Conjugate / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Meningococcal Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Conjugate
  • meningococcal type B conjugate vaccine