Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Shaping the Vaccine Manufacturing Ecosystem
Vaccines for children has been a long-standing focus for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and their critical role in public health made their production an important economic and political issue. This case describes the Foundation's investment in a breakthrough vaccine manufacturing platform for the Sabin inactivated polio virus. While the new technology promised a much lower cost per dose, it also raised questions about the consequences of lowering entry barriers to vaccine production, as maintaining high quality and production standards, a strong regulatory environment were critical to protecting the integrity of the vaccine supply. The new technology also threatened to encourage more developed country vaccine manufacturers to exit the market, not an outcome the Foundation was hoping for, as they possessed the capabilities and resources to invest in future developments. It raises the question of whether vaccines are a public good, and who should be responsible for their production.