Webinar recap: Lessons from COVID-19 vaccine acceleration for global health

Last month, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, the Amsterdam Institute of Global Health and Development and KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation jointly organized a webinar on global health lessons we can ascertain from the acceleration in development of COVID-19 vaccines. Experts on the panel discussed issues surrounding vaccine safety, clinical trial capacity, regulatory requirements and use of big data. To watch the live stream of the webinar and listen to experts discuss these global health issues, please click here.

Can we accelerate the elimination of infectious diseases of global importance? The Corona pandemic lays bare inequalities in survival chances among peoples, generations and countries. With regard to a range of poverty-related infectious diseases affecting primarily countries with less developed health systems, it has been a challenge for years to develop diagnostics, treatments and vaccines and deliver them to the ones most in need. Currently, we are witnessing an unprecedented global effort in research and development for medicines and vaccines for Covid-19 that aims to reduce timelines to market entry from decades to months. Are there lessons to be learned from this acceleration for product development for other infectious diseases of global importance?

Experts discussed how product development for poverty-related infectious diseases may be accelerated and how global accessibility can be achieved. What can we learn from the Covid-19 effort for generating funding for R&D, doing the clinical trials, regulating the access to new vaccines and medicines; and how could their use and health impact be improved by the use of big data?


The following speakers shared their expertise during the webinar:

Jaap Goudsmit is Scientific Director at the Human Immunomics Initiative of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His contribution will be about the challenges of vaccine development for new diseases based on his extensive experience in the field of HIV/AIDS and beyond. (Jaap is a regular guest on Dutch talk shows and the fourth guest on VPRO Zomergasten 9 August). We will share a pre-recorded interview.

Michael Makanga is the CEO of the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), which is a public-public partnership between countries in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, supported by the European Union. It aims to accelerate the clinical development of medicinal products for poverty-related infectious diseases.

Marco Cavaleri is Head of Anti-infectives and Vaccines at the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the EU agency responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines in the EU. The EMA will have to balance off the strong desire for quick availability of affordable COVID-19 vaccines, but with safety being guaranteed.

Tobias Rinke de Wit is Research Director at PharmAccess group and affiliated with the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD). The group is dedicated to improving access to quality healthcare in Africa. New research is focusing at how connected diagnostics that combines data from various sources can help to more efficiently tackle infectious diseases of global importance.

The webinar was moderated by Louise van Schaik, Head of Unit EU & Global Affairs at the Clingendael Institute.

This webinar is part of the Clingendael Global Health Initiative that aims to stimulate policy-relevant discussions among global health experts from NGOs, the private sector, government agencies/ministries and academia.