Would you pay for an Ebola vaccine? Most say yes.

March 12, 2018, George Mason University
A scanning electron micrograph of Ebola virus budding from a cell (African green monkey kidney epithelial cell line). Credit: NIAID

The 2014-2016 West African Ebola outbreak was the deadliest in history, infecting more than 28,000 people and killing more than 11,000. While the number of people infected in the United States was low, it was covered extensively in the media, leading to widespread fear. Now, given the success of recent clinical trials, we are closer than ever to a vaccine to prevent it.

George Mason University researchers conducted a study during the height of the epidemic and found that a majority of participants (59.7 percent) would pay at least $1 for an Ebola Vaccine. Those who were willing to pay at least $1 had typically traveled internationally in the last 12 months, were interested in getting an Ebola , and believed that the U.S. government should spend money to control Ebola and assume worldwide leadership in confronting emerging epidemics.

The nationally representative survey of U.S. adults was published in January in Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics. It included questions on Ebola-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors as well as background information (e.g., demographics, international travel) to test for indicators of willingness to pay for a vaccine.

Dr. Julia Painter, an assistant professor in Mason's Department of Global and Community Health (GCH) led the study with support from assistant professor Dr. Michael von Fricken; graduate student Suyane Viana de O. Mesquita (now an alumna of the Master of Public Health program); and professor Dr. Ralph J. DiClemente from Emory University.

"We believe this is the first study to assess willingness to pay for an Ebola vaccine in the United States," Painter explains. "This is important because previous studies conducted in West Africa are not generalizable to the U.S. population. Once developed, a licensed vaccine against Ebola "We were unsure of what to expect. The actual risk of Ebola infection among the general U.S. population was low, which could have led to lack of willingness so spend money on a vaccine. On the other hand, the outbreak garnered extensive media coverage, leading to a national contagion of fear. This fear could have driven people to be willing to pay for a vaccine."

The researchers also tested willingness to pay for a vaccine at various price points. Of those respondents willing to pay at least $1, 66 percent would pay $1-50, 20.1 percent would pay $51-100, and 13.9 percent would pay more than $100. People who had traveled internationally within the last 12 months and were interested in getting an Ebola vaccine were more likely to be willing to pay for a vaccine across all price points. Interestingly, participants' interest in getting a vaccine did not necessarily indicate their willingness to pay.

"Previous research has shown that to pay for a vaccine is an important indicator of risk perception and demand," von Fricken explains. "This work is a first step in understanding public interest in an Ebola vaccine once it's approved."

One key limitation of this study was that questions about the Ebola vaccine were hypothetical; it is unknown if findings would apply to an actual vaccine. Willingness to pay for an actual vaccine would likely depend on cost, as well as other vaccine-related factors. Another consideration is that this study was conducted during the height of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and "Fearbola" epidemic in the United States. It is unclear if findings would be similar under non-outbreak circumstances.

This research is a follow up to the team's previous study, which measured interest in an Ebola vaccine and was published in Vaccine in November 2016.

Explore further: WHO chief praises Guineans for help with Ebola vaccine

More information: Julia E. Painter et al, Willingness to pay for an Ebola vaccine during the 2014–2016 ebola outbreak in West Africa: Results from a U.S. National sample, Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics (2018). DOI: 10.1080/21645515.2018.1423928

Related Stories

WHO chief praises Guineans for help with Ebola vaccine

May 4, 2017
The head of the World Health Organization is praising Guineans for their role in helping to develop a vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus.

Global Vaccine promises $5 million to develop Ebola vaccine

January 20, 2016
The global vaccine alliance GAVI says it will donate $5 million toward developing the leading Ebola vaccine, hoping that it will be approved by a regulator by the end of 2017.

Ebola vaccine shows 'promising' results: WHO

July 31, 2015
Preliminary results of tests on an Ebola vaccine to be published later Friday in British science magazine The Lancet have shown "promising" results, World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan said.

Johnson & Johnson starts Ebola vaccine trial in Sierra Leone

October 9, 2015
Johnson & Johnson has begun clinical trials for an Ebola vaccine in Sierra Leone.

DR Congo authorises trial of experimental Ebola vaccine

May 29, 2017
The Democratic Republic of Congo has approved using an experimental Ebola vaccine to combat an outbreak of the virus in the northeast, the government said Monday.

Mali holds Ebola vaccine trials

October 11, 2014
Mali's health minister says the west African country has started trials of an Ebola vaccine on scientific researchers.

Recommended for you

Study reveals new therapeutic target for slowing the spread of flu virus

June 22, 2018
Influenza A (flu A) hijacks host proteins for viral RNA splicing and blocking these interactions caused replication of the virus to slow, according to new research published in Nature Communications by Kristin W. Lynch, Ph.D., ...

First ancient syphilis genomes decoded

June 21, 2018
An international research team, including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the University of Tübingen, the National School of Anthropology and History in Mexico City, and the University ...

Rhesus macaque model offers route to study Zika brain pathology

June 21, 2018
Rhesus macaque monkeys infected in utero with Zika virus develop similar brain pathology to human infants, according to a report by researchers at the California National Primate Research Center and School of Veterinary Medicine ...

California Aedes mosquitoes capable of spreading Zika

June 21, 2018
Over the last five years, Zika virus has emerged as a significant global human health threat following outbreaks in South and Central America. Now, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have shown that ...

Breakthrough treatment for crippling jaw disease created

June 20, 2018
A first-ever tissue implant to safely treat a common jaw defect, known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, has been successfully tested by UCI-led researchers in a large animal model, according to new findings.

New flu vaccine only a little better than traditional shot

June 20, 2018
A newer kind of flu vaccine only worked a little bit better in seniors this past winter than traditional shots, the government reported Wednesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.