Researchers at St George’s Hospital are inviting pregnant women to help study a new vaccine that aims to protect babies from potentially life-threatening Group B streptococcus.

St George’s Vaccine Institute Centre for Neonatal and Paediatric Infection has specific expertise in facilitating clinical vaccine trials for maternal and neonatal care, and plays a key role in providing research to support our CQC ‘rated outstanding’ children’s services at St Georges Hospital.

Group B streptococcus is a type of bacteria that affects two to four women in 10. It is usually harmless in adults, but it can be very dangerous to unborn and new-born babies.

It is responsible for nearly half of all life-threatening infections in new-borns during the first three months of life. It also sometimes causes miscarriages, premature births and stillbirths.

Local mum Helen is pregnant and is pleased to be taking part in the vaccine research programme at St George’s Hospital.

She said: “It’s really important to me to participate in maternity research, especially for something that can be life-threatening to new-born babies.

“As a paediatric nurse myself, I have seen and treated the sickest of babies with Group B Strep and having a vaccine in common circulation would reduce the number of these very sick babies, which is very positive. Having the appointments was also nice, as it gave me more check-ups of my baby!”

Professor Paul Heath, UK Chief Investigator based at the Vaccine Institute at St George’s, University of London said: “Group B strep is the most important cause of infections, including meningitis, in young infants. It is very clear that what we need is an effective vaccine for pregnant women to prevent this infection. With this in mind, we are inviting pregnant women from the London and Southampton areas to help us test this promising vaccine.”

In November 2021, the World Health Organization reported the urgent need for a global vaccine to be developed against Group B strep. The MinervaX vaccine has already been given to non-pregnant women in a previous UK study, with no safety concerns, and has been shown to induce a strong immune response which is positive.

A study in pregnant women is currently being performed in South Africa, and an independent safety review committee have reviewed the data from the first 125 women with no safety concerns.

St George’s Hospital researchers are investigating the best time to offer the vaccine to pregnant women, with the aim to provide the most protection for their babies after birth. 

The maternity research team are happy to help local mums who would like to get involved and support vaccine research. For further information on this vaccine research study, please contact or call the maternity research team at St George’s Hospital on 0208 725 388.

Notes to editors

St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the largest healthcare provider, major teaching hospital and tertiary centre for southwest London, Surrey and beyond – and one of the largest healthcare providers in the UK – serving a population of 3.5 million.

Every year St George’s treats over 130,000 children and deliver 5000 babies. Our children’s services have a CQC rating of ‘outstanding.’

Its main site, St George’s Hospital – one of the country’s principal teaching hospitals – is shared with St George’s, University of London, which trains medical students and carries out advanced medical research.

The St George’s Vaccine Institute is an independent, non-commerical, academic, institution, which is part of St Georges University Hospital Foundation Trust, and is co-located, and works closely with, the Clinical Research Facility at St Georges University Hospital Foundation Trust. It focuses on the epidemiology of vaccine-preventable diseases, human clinical trials of paediatric, pregnancy and adult vaccines, and also studies vaccines against infectious diseases plaguing the most underprivileged members of the world.

The Centre for Neonatal and Paediatric Infection and Vaccine Institute within has specific expertise in clinical vaccine trials for infectious diseases