Technological Innovation for Global Health: Vaxess’ Long Road to Heat-Stable Vaccines

×
×
Price:
$0.00
Quantity:
Quantity:

Educator Access
A review copy of this case is available free of charge to educators and trainers. Please create an account or sign in to gain access to this material.

Permission to Reprint
Each purchase of this product entitles the buyer to one digital file and use. If you intend to distribute, teach, or share this item, you must purchase permission for each individual who will be given access. Learn more about purchasing permission to reprint.

  • Product Description

    Abstract:
    Vaccines are one of the most valuable and cost-effective public health interventions. While children in high-income countries were routinely vaccinated against a range of diseases, governments in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) faced significant challenges to making vaccines accessible to their countries’ children. One of these challenges was maintaining the “cold chain” – that is, keeping vaccines at the temperature required to maintain their efficacy (between 2-8 degrees Celsius) through the long distribution path from manufacturer to recipient. Together with colleagues, Harvard Kennedy School graduate Livio Valenti had founded the start-up company Vaxess to develop a silk-based technology that was very promising for the heat-stabilization of vaccines. Vaxess’ goal was to facilitate vaccines reaching the poorest children, such as those who lived in rural areas of developing countries where refrigeration was scarce. Developing a biomedical technology from its early stages into a final product was already a lengthy and risky endeavor; doing so for a product with limited market potential could be more complex still. In principle, creating heat-stable vaccines could offer many benefits from eliminating the need for a cold chain: decreased distribution costs, reduced vaccine spoilage, improved immunization coverage and increased compliance with vaccination schedules. However, what had initially seemed like a straightforward scientific challenge to address a widely-shared goal, quickly revealed itself to be much more complex as Valenti began to navigate the complex global health ecosystem: vaccine industry stakeholders included pharmaceutical companies, charitable foundations, UN agencies, global health initiatives and the governments of LMIC countries. What did Vaxess need to do to move toward its goal?

    Learning Objective:
    This case examines the complex global system that shapes the process of technological innovation for public health and the barriers that arise between the invention of a potentially useful technology and achieving beneficial impact with that technology, especially for poor populations. Case discussions should focus on how a relatively small, new organization can navigate this complex landscape to achieve social impact, and the organizational strategies and public policies that are needed to overcome these barriers.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: September 30, 2016
    HKS Case Number: 2081.0
    Case Author: Laura Winig
    Faculty Lead: Suerie Moon
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 19
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    Funding Source: Harvard Kennedy School’s Sustainability Science Program
    _year: 2016-2017
    _pages: 16-25
    _geography: US & Canada
  • Warranty Information

    /review/2081_0_EducatorCopy.pdf

×
×