In the spring of 2014, as Ebola exploded across West Africa, a scientist named Gary Kobinger was following the news intently from Canada.
Kobinger was the head of the special pathogens unit at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. He and the team he led had a well-deserved reputation for their work on Ebola and other viral hemorrhagic fevers; Kobinger himself had led development of a promising Ebola therapy.
The Winnipeg lab also had been working for years on an Ebola vaccine, one that looked tremendously effective in animal models. The lab had even produced human-grade vaccine in the hopes of testing it in people. But as of April 2014, that still hadn’t happened. The vaccine had never been deployed in an outbreak. No major pharmaceutical company had expressed interest in developing it.