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Webinar: Overcoming Barriers to Equitable Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines

This webinar took place on Thursday, March 25, 2021, 12:00-1:30 PM EDT. You can watch a recording of the event below

With COVID-19 vaccines in limited supply, the current moment calls for an unprecedented cooperative effort among global institutions, governments, and the private sector (especially pharmaceutical corporations) in order to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are allocated and distributed equitably, rather than based on nationalistic goals.

McGill Global Health Programs is pleased to partner with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University to present a special webinar that explored global COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans and progress; and global efforts towards equity in vaccine distribution.

This webinar explored the following questions:

  • What are the reasons behind the current inequitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines?
  • What solutions exist or are being developed to address the global vaccine access and equity problem?
    • COVAX facility: What is it? How does it work? What are the barriers to success?
    • What other solutions or tools exist?
  • What impact will the current global vaccine distribution plan have on the possibility of global population immunity?


About our Speakers

Tahir Amin (He/Him/His)Tahir Amin, LL.B., Dip. LP., is an attorney with more than 25 years of experience in intellectual property (IP) law. He practiced as a Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales with two of the leading IP firms in the United Kingdom, and served as in-house global IP counsel for multinational corporations. In 2004, Amin left private legal practice and moved to Bangalore, India, where he was instrumental to the passage of a health-friendly patent law. That process led him to eventually co-found I-MAK, with the purpose of re-shaping intellectual property laws to better serve the public interest. Amin’s pioneering work challenging patents established a new model for treatment access, one that restores balance to the system by upending the structural power dynamics that allow health and economic inequities to persist. He has served as legal advisor/consultant to many groups, including the European Patent Office, United Nations Environment Programme, World Health Organisation, UNITAID and GAVI as well as being a resource to members of the U.S Congress on the role of patents and rising drug prices. He is a former Harvard Medical School Fellow in the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine and was a 2009 TED Fellow. Amin is a frequent speaker on patents and rising drug prices, and has been featured on NBC News, Channel 4 Dispatches, Newsweek, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, and Reuters. His research and publications on the role of intellectual property as a barrier to accessing medicines and vaccines, include Health Affairs, Science, Nature Biotechnology, Vaccine, the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, STAT and Foreign Affairs.

Fatima Hassan (she/her/hers)Fatima Hassan is a human rights lawyer and social justice activist and the founder of the Health Justice Initiative. She is the former Executive Director of the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA). She has dedicated her professional life to defending and promoting human rights in South Africa, especially in the field of HIV/AIDS where she worked for the AIDS Law Project and also acted for the Treatment Action Campaign in many of its legal cases. She has a BA and LL.B from the University of the Witwatersrand and an LL.M from Duke University. She clerked at the Constitutional Court of South Africa for Justice Kate O'Regan and has served as the Special Adviser to former Minister Barbara Hogan (Health; Public Enterprises). She is a former co-director and a founding Trustee of Ndifuna Ukwazi, and previously served on the Boards of the Raith Foundation; SA Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF-SA); the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC); and the SA Council for Medical Schemes. She is currently serving on the Board of Global Witness. She is the recipient of several fellowships and awards, including the Franklin Thomas SA Constitutional Court Fellowship; and the Tom and Andi Bernstein Distinguished Human Rights Fellowship at Yale University’s School of Law. Read her Daily Maverick articles.

Gagandeep Kang (she/her/hers)Gagandeep Kang is a Professor at Wellcome Trust Research Laboratory, and the Division of Gastrointestinal Sciences at the Christian Medical College (CMC) in Vellore, India. Professor Kang conducts inter-disciplinary research on enteric infections and child health. Her team has evaluated vaccines in pre-clinical and clinical phase 1-3 studies for rotavirus and cholera. She is a member of many WHO advisory committees, is the vice-Chair of the Board of Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and chairs the Immunization Technical Advisory Group for the WHO’s South East Asian Region


Kai Kupferschmidt (He/Him/His)About our Moderator

Kai Kupferschmidt is a science journalist based in Berlin, Germany. He studied molecular biomedicine at the University of Bonn and then attended Berlin Journalism School. He has been writing about infectious diseases for German and international media and has written a book about the subject. Kai is a contributing correspondent for Science Magazine.


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The event was held on March 25, a recording is available at the top of this page.

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McGill University is located on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. McGill honours recognizes and respects these nations as the traditional stewards of the lands and waters on which peoples of the world now gather. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land.

Learn more about Indigenous Initiatives at McGill.

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