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The Independent reports: Jeremy Hunt is under severe pressure from the Prime Minister to explain why his department has failed to agree a deal with the makers of a new life-saving meningitis vaccine.

The stalled talks between the Department of Health and the Swiss multinational Novartis mean months of delay in bringing the vaccine into the NHS’s child-immunisation programme. This could result in hundreds of children losing their lives or facing traumatic limb amputations. Today the Health Secretary’s team offered its account of the failure to make the vaccine available on the NHS, accusing the Swiss drug company of “holding the Government to ransom”. They said it was “seeking to turn a profit” which could not be accepted “because this would deny treatments to other patients”.

Novartis’s head of vaccines, Dr Andrin Oswald, rejected the accusation, insisting his company had “gone to great lengths to support a swift implementation of a vaccination campaign”.

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