European Medical Leadership: an Ebola Vaccine

A coordinated effort by European researchers in UK and Germany has produced a

Source: CDC

vaccine that works for both children and adults. This is in response to a 2016 outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people.

Researchers had the advantage of having 15 good candidates for a vaccine before the current work began. However, the relatively short time required for development and testing (including human trials) is remarkable. We have an outbreak in 2016 and one year later we have a solution.

Professor Sanjeev Krishna, of St George’s University of London’s Institute for Infection and Immunity, said: “An unprecedented Ebola outbreak showed how it is possible for academics, non-governmental organisations, industry and funders to work effectively together very quickly in times of medical crisis. The results of the trial show how a vaccine could best be used to tackle this terrible disease effectively.”(2)

Researchers at University of Tübingen in Germany and the CERMEL institute in Lambaréné, Gabon, ran the clinical trials.

US researchers and pharma companies are notable by their absence in this effort. That’s despite the subsidies they receive from Congress for research and development.

The argument is that universities should work independently of traditional drug companies to bring new products to market at a cost that will be tolerable for consumers.(3) So-called non-profit drug development could provide a greater variety of drugs more quickly and at a better cost than the traditional pharma industry dinosaurs.


  1. Selidji T. Agnandji, José F. Fernandes, Emmanuel B. Bache, Régis M. Obiang Mba, Jessica S. Brosnahan, Lumeka Kabwende, Paul Pitzinger, Pieter Staarink, Marguerite Massinga-Loembe, Verena Krähling, Nadine Biedenkopf, Sarah Katharina Fehling, Thomas Strecker, David J. Clark, Henry M. Staines, Jay W. Hooper, Peter Silvera, Vasee Moorthy, Marie-Paule Kieny, Akim A. Adegnika, Martin P. Grobusch, Stephan Becker, Michael Ramharter, Benjamin Mordmüller, Bertrand Lell, Sanjeev Krishna, Peter G. Kremsner. Safety and immunogenicity of rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP Ebola vaccine in adults and children in Lambaréné, Gabon: A phase I randomised trial. PLOS Medicine, 2017; 14 (10): e1002402 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002402
  2. University of St George’s London. “Ebola vaccine tested in adults and children in Africa hailed a success.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 October 2017. <>.

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