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From discovery to delivery: public sector development of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine

Matthew Herder, Janice E Graham, and Richard Gold

Citing The Democracy Collaborative's Dana Brown on the need for a public option for pharmaceutics, this case study of rVSV-ZEBOV underscores the significant public contribution to the R&D of vaccines even under conditions of precarity, and suggests that an alternative approach to generating knowledge and developing interventions, such as open science, is required in order to fully realize the public sector’s contribution to improved global health.

"One option, which is gaining interest, is to create a 'public option,' that is, a public sector led supply of essential, affordably priced medicines from discovery all the way through manufacturing and regulatory approval.[55] Indeed, the case of rVSV-ZEBOV shows that such a public option is not simply theoretical; rather, as demonstrated by the NML, the public sector has the capacity to do much more than pure discovery research. Armed with sufficient resources, public sector labs can conduct phase 1, 2, and 3 clinical trials as well as solve many of the technical challenges that manufacturing a clinical grade vaccine will entail."