It has been argued that a country such as Liberia, not fully recovered from the devastation of decades of civil unrest, lacked the appropriate ethical and regulatory framework, basic human and health care services, and infrastructure to carry out clinical trials according to international standards of quality during a public health emergency. However, as Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea were being ravaged by the largest and most devastating Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak ever recorded, the topic of conducting clinical trials of experimental vaccine and treatment candidates in these resource-poor countries generated the keen interest and concern of scientists, researchers, physicians, bioethicists, philanthropists, and even politicians.
Decisive action on behalf of the Liberian government, and a timely positive and supportive response from the United States (U.S.) government, led to the formation of PREVAIL (Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia) – a clinical research partnership between the two governments. Within a span of 12 weeks, this partnership accomplished the unimaginable: the successful initiation of a Phase II/III vaccine clinical trial for EVD in Liberia. This paper will discuss the dynamics of the research collaboration, barriers encountered, breakthroughs realized, key elements of success, and lessons learned in the process.