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有了赚钱的动力,就能击败埃博拉

Clifton Leaf 2018年08月26日

今年埃博拉疫情卷土重来,但只持续两个月就结束了,原因何在?

今年5月3日,新闻报道称刚果民主共和国西部边境上的赤道省(Équateur)Ikoko-Impenge村有20多人染上了奇怪而可怕的疾病,该省卫生部门官员也获知了这个消息。5月8日,刚果卫生部证实了许多人担心的事,那就是埃博拉又卷土重来了。

不过,这次的情况和此前横扫中非和西非的多次埃博拉疫情有所不同。它在7月中旬就结束了,而且只有33人丧生,传播范围也没有显著超越最初的感染区。相反,2014-2016年在塞拉利昂、利比里亚和几内亚肆虐的埃博拉疫情则夺去了逾1.1万人的生命。

与以往相比,应对这次疫情也有很多不同之处。当地卫生部门官员和世界卫生组织都闪电般地采取了应对措施。此外,实验性疫苗的使用成为了这次控制疫情扩散的新手段。

该疫苗由默沙东参与开发,在今年的《财富》“改变世界”公司榜单上默沙东排名第二。这种疫苗通过构建保护性免疫链来控制埃博拉病毒——卫生工作者给几乎所有可能接触了病毒感染者的人都接种了疫苗。虽然下定论还为时尚早(而且随后又爆发了新疫情),但埃博拉是100年来最让人恐惧的疾病之一,而新的疫苗和免疫策略或许真的能成为抗击这种疾病的转折点,甚至有可能让我们找到对付其他病毒性流行病的头绪。

默沙东为埃博拉疫苗投入了大量资金,并曾在此前的重大疫情中进行过测试。该公司埃博拉研究部门负责人贝丝-安·科勒说,埃博拉减毒活疫苗由不同病毒组分的DNA组合而成,每一瓶疫苗的生产都极为复杂,需要耗时整整一年。但这家大型制药企业开展这项工作并不是为了做慈善。相反,默沙东的疫苗业务去年的销售额超过60亿美元,其产品还包括肺炎疫苗、带状疱疹疫苗和针对能引发癌症的人乳头瘤病毒的疫苗产品。尽管埃博拉疫苗本身没带来高额利润,但通过开发该产品获得的知识应该可以应用到整个疫苗业务的研发活动中。

简而言之,默沙东所做的和许多大公司一样,那就是尝试解决需要解决的问题,并设法在这个过程中获得利润。实际上,全世界的公司每天都在想办法同时做到这两点——它们相信“利成于益”,而且通常很低调。

我们这些在《财富》杂志工作的人觉得这是一个值得探讨的现象。因此,在来自Shared Value Initiative合作伙伴的帮助下,我们连续第四年锁定了几十家在日常运营中解决公共健康、环境、经济或其他社会问题的公司。要说明的是,这份榜单和公司的慈善活动无关,而且我们也没有用什么全方位的善恶标准来衡量企业(就算想要这样,我们也评估不出来)。相反,《财富》杂志的“改变世界”公司榜的立足点是完全通过可持续、可扩张的问题解决机制来解决问题,我们称这种机制为“生意”。

2015年首次开展这项工作时,我们觉得很难找到50家符合标准的公司。而今年我们则有如此之多的合格候选企业,以至于我们将上榜大公司(年销售额至少达到10亿美元)的数量扩大到了57家,而且还纳入了6家呈冉冉升起的“明星企业”。

其中一家“明星企业”以令人意外的方式为应对最新一轮埃博拉疫情做出了贡献,它就是中国冰箱企业澳柯玛。默沙东的埃博拉疫苗面临的一大挑战是它的储藏温度非常低(零下60摄氏度或以下)。在撒哈拉以南的非洲偏远地区, 因为很多地方都没有通电,所以这几乎是无法完成的任务——直到基金公司Global Good的一批投资人发明了便携式深度冷冻冰箱Arktek,它可以在任何地方储备几百瓶疫苗。而它的生产企业就是澳柯玛。(财富中文网)

本文最初刊登在2018年9月1日出版的《财富》杂志上。

译者:Charlie

审校:夏林

 

ON MAY 3, REPORTS that a strange and frightening illness had struck more than 20 people in the village of Ikoko-Impenge reached health officials in the province of Équateur, on the western border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. By May 8, the Ministry of Health confirmed what many had feared: Ebola was back.

But this outbreak ran a different course than many of the previous ones across Central and West Africa. By mid-July it was over. Instead of more than 11,000 deaths—the grisly toll of the 2014–2016 epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea—this one killed 33 and never spread far beyond its immediate zone of infection.

There was much that was different this time around. Both local health officials and the World Health Organization had responded with lightning speed. And now there was something else to contain the spread: an experimental vaccine.

The vaccine, codeveloped by Merck, No. 2 on this year’s Change the World list, kept Ebola in check through a protective ring of immunization, with health workers vaccinating virtually everyone who may have been in contact with a person infected with the virus. And while it’s still too early to tell (and another outbreak has since begun), the new vaccine and immunization strategy may well be a turning point in the battle against one of the scariest diseases of the past century—and perhaps even give us clues to staving off other viral epidemics.

Merck’s investment in the Ebola vaccine has been prodigious. The company tested it in the crucible of past outbreaks. And the production of each vial of this live attenuated vaccine, combined from the DNA of different viral components, is so complex that it takes a full year to complete, says Beth-Ann Coller, who heads up Merck’s Ebola research efforts. But the drug giant isn’t doing this out of charity. Rather, the company’s vaccine business—which includes inoculations against pneumonia, shingles, and the cancer-causing HPV—had more than $6 billion in sales last year. Even if the Ebola vaccine doesn’t make gobs of money on its own, the knowledge gained from developing it should help inform R&D across the business.

Merck, in short, is doing what so many great companies do: trying to fix something that needs fixing and trying to turn a profit while doing it. Indeed, businesses around the globe manage to accomplish both of these things—they do well by doing good—every day, and often away from the headlines.

We at Fortune think that’s a phenomenon worth exploring. So for the fourth straight year, with the help of our partners at the Shared Value Initiative, we’ve identified dozens of companies that are tackling public health, environmental, economic, or other societal challenges as part of their everyday operations. The list, importantly, isn’t about the charity companies give—and, no, we’re not weighing corporations on some omniscient scale of good and bad. (We couldn’t make that assessment if we tried.) Fortune’s Change the World list, rather, is about solving problems through the only sustainable and scalable problem solving machine we know of: business.

Back in 2015, when we started this effort, we thought we’d have a hard time finding 50 companies that fit the bill. This year we had so many worthy candidates that we stretched the number of big-company honorees, those with at least $1 billion in annual sales, to 57 and included six rising stars as well.

One of those rising stars has also helped, in a surprising way, to fight the latest Ebola outbreak—that’s Chinese refrigeration company Aucma. One major challenge of Merck’s Ebola vaccine is that it needs to be stored in ultralow temperatures (–60 degrees Celsius or less). The feat was nearly impossible to manage in remote parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where there’s often no power grid to speak of—until, that is, a group of inventors at Global Good created a portable deep-freeze container called the Arktek, capable of storing hundreds of vials of vaccine anywhere. So how does Aucma fit into this story? It manufactures the Arktek.

This article originally appeared in the September 1, 2018 issue of Fortune.

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