The COVID-19 pandemic has not only created unprecedented public health and economic crisis, but has also put science under tremendous pressure to develop and deliver remedies in an unrealistic time frame. Such exceptional haste is placing huge demands on the scientific community to forego ethics, rigour and caution. The announcement of “Operation Warp Speed” for developing vaccines has triggered frantic efforts in India to collaborate with the multinational companies as junior partners on producing vaccines that are yet to have evidence, as well as rush into the race to speed-test the Indian candidate vaccines.
The current situation vis-a-vis development and distribution of vaccines for COVID-19 has raised multiple concerns among public health, ethics, medical and legal practitioners, who are strongly feeling the need for urgent reflection, on the one hand, to bring the focus back on science and ethics in the development of vaccines, and an extensive public engagement, on the other, that would help people to avoid misconceptions about research or harbour wrong expectations.
To further deliberate on these concerns, a Webinar Series of FIVE webinars on “Ethical and Legal Challenges in Research on Preventive Vaccines and in Making Approved Vaccines Accessible” is being organized between 7 to 21 November 2020, to reflect on the science and ethics in developing and accessing vaccines for COVID-19.
Webinar 1: Saturday 7 November 2020, 15:30 to 17:30 IST
SCIENTIFIC AND ETHICAL ISSUES IN COVID VACCINE TRIALS
Sarojini Nadimpally is working on the issues of public health, clinical trials and access to medicines through research and advocacy. Affiliated with Sama Resource Group for Women and Health and People’s Health Movement.
DR. AMAR JESANI
Dr. Amar Jesani is an independent researcher and teacher in bioethics and public health. Co-founder of the Forum for Medical Ethics Society and its journal, the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics.
Types of candidate vaccines and clinical trials designed to avoid their failures
DR. SATYAJIT RATH
Dr. Satyajit Rath works on mechanisms involved in the development and functioning of the immune system. He was formerly a faculty member at the National Institute of Immunology (NII). He also works closely with civil society groups involved in science education and those at the interface of science and society.
Nature of public engagement and informed consent
Veena Johari is a practicing lawyer specialising on health-related laws, ethics, and access to medicines. Earlier with the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS unit, she now has her own firm, Courtyard Attorneys. She is also an External Legal member in Research Ethics committee that reviews and monitors clinical trials, including those relating to COVID-19.
Standard of care, adverse events (injuries & deaths) and compensation
DR. SANTANU KUMAR TRIPATHI
Dr. Santanu Tripathi is Professor & Head, Department of Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology; Chairman, Drug Management Committee; Chairman, Medical Education Unit, School of Tropical Medicine, Kolkata; Member, Expert Committee for Clinical Trial SAE Assessment, Govt of India.