Vaccines for National DefenseeBook - 2012
Despite large-scale government demand for new vaccines in the past decade, few have materialized. Vaccine innovation has been falling since World War II. Hoyt’s timely investigation asks why, and teaches lessons for our efforts to rebuild biodefense capabilities when the financial payback for a vaccine is low but the social returns are high.
At the turn of the twenty-first century, the United States contended with a state-run biological warfare program, bioterrorism, and a pandemic. Together, these threats spurred large-scale government demand for new vaccines, but few have materialized. A new anthrax vaccine has been a priority since the first Gulf War, but twenty years and a billion dollars later, the United States still does not have one. This failure is startling.
Historically, the United States has excelled at responding to national health emergencies. World War II era programs developed ten new or improved vaccines, often in time to meet the objectives of particular military missions. Probing the history of vaccine development for factors that foster timely innovation, Kendall Hoyt discovered that vaccine innovation has been falling, not rising, since World War II. This finding is at odds with prevailing theories of market-based innovation and suggests that a collection of nonmarket factors drove mid-century innovation. Ironically, many late-twentieth-century developments that have been celebrated as a boon for innovation—the birth of a biotechnology industry and the rise of specialization and outsourcing—undercut the collaborative networks and research practices that drove successful vaccine projects in the past.
Hoyt’s timely investigation teaches important lessons for our efforts to rebuild twenty-first-century biodefense capabilities, especially when the financial payback for a particular vaccine is low, but the social returns are high.
Baker & Taylor
Probing the history of vaccine development for factors that foster timely innovation, the author reveals that vaccine innovation in the United States has been falling, not rising, since World War II, prompting an examination of our biodefense capabilities.
Hoyt (Dartmouth Medical School) offers an intriguing look at vaccine discovery and production in the early twenty-first century, examining new disease threats related to terrorism and military confrontations around the world and questioning why advances in research, increased spending, and need have produced few new vaccines. The work explores modern systems of market-driven research and argues that past models that directed research with centralized objectives and shared resources produced better and faster results. The book will appeal to students of the history of medicine as well as general readers interested in medical and national security issues. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)