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. 2019 Apr;74:7-14.
doi: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2019.01.001. Epub 2019 Jan 5.

Vaccine Development as a 'Doable Problem': The Case of the Meningococcal A Vaccines 1962-1969

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Vaccine Development as a 'Doable Problem': The Case of the Meningococcal A Vaccines 1962-1969

Baptiste Baylac-Paouly. Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci. .

Abstract

During the period from 1962 to 1967, the development of a meningococcal A vaccine could be considered as feasible despite all the drawbacks of working with cerebrospinal meningitis A. In this paper, I analyse why and how this programme for vaccine development was put into place, and in particular how the problem was perceived as feasible. Deploying the concept of Doable Problems developed by Joan Fujimura, I examine the complex range of factors that led to the outcome of the trial in Yako in 1967. Thus I show how the different protagonists were mobilized and their work organized at different levels in order to produce and test a vaccine. Indeed, a number of elements seemed to stand in the way of successfully producing a vaccine, but the collaboration of the different actors under the aegis of the WHO provides interesting lessons about the management of this kind of project. Seen in a wider historical context, this approach could provide ideas and lessons for approaching current questions in vaccination from a new perspective.

Keywords: Africa; Cerebrospinal meningitis A; Doable problem; Institut Mérieux; Meningococcal vaccine; World Health Organization.

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