STC Goes Behind the Scenes on the First Ever Decision to Use An Unapproved Experimental Vaccine in a Human

Industry: Healthcare

“Everyone involved was risking jail time," said Dr. Gary Kobinger, one of the creators of the Ebola vaccine who recently spoke at STC’s headquarters in Phoenix and told of the decision to use the untested Ebola vaccine on humans. The story, published by STC this month, has not previously appeared in print.

Phoenix, AZ (PRUnderground) September 18th, 2019

The Highlights:

Just months after the first successful test on primates, Dr. Kobinger got a call asking permission to administer the new drug to two American aid workers in Africa infected with Ebola. One, Dr. Kent Brantly, was thought to be within hours of dying. Meanwhile, there happened to be three doses of the new drug in a freezer in Sierra Leone, awaiting testing on how it would hold up in that climate.

“It’s hard to manage those emotions,” Dr. Kobinger recalled. “Agreeing to use an experimental treatment that was not made for treating human beings who are sick — it’s a huge risk. We weren’t just risking our jobs, everyone involved was risking jail time [ as the FDA had warned as a consequence for skipping regulatory processes]”

The verdict wasn’t easy.  “People don’t realize how intense this was,” said Kobinger. “My question at the time to myself was, Do I really stand in front of the freezer and prevent them from accessing it? I cannot stand in front of that freezer. I’m not going to be the one pushing for injection or pushing for treatment, but if it’s requested, I need to be moving aside and letting them access it.”

So Kobinger signed off and it was administered to Kent Brantly, the MD believed to be hours from dying.

Then he waited: “I started asking, Did he get it? I was sweating. I started losing what little sleep I was getting. It was intense.”

Finally, the news came: Dr. Kent Brantly made his turn for the better almost instantly. He said later he felt the fever break within fifteen minutes, and an hour or so later he stood and walked for the first time in days.

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STChealth’s mission is to eradicate vaccine preventable disease and empower individuals through our innovative technology and service solutions. We deliver on our mission through passion and innovation, through teamwork and inclusion, through superior client service and products, and a relentless pursuit of the next ”big idea”​ that will advance immunization intelligence. Starting with developing the first Immunization Information System (IIS) and over 35 years of experience in the immunization ecosystem, STChealth is positioned today to support more than 1/3 of COVID-19 vaccinations reported in the U.S. through our network of over 70,000 Providers and Pharmacy Partners. More information can be found at

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