While some have already received a COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine trials are ongoing. More than 50 candidate vaccines are currently in clinical trials in humans, including 16 in phase 3 trials, and around 100 at the exploratory pre-clinical stage. As these trials continue, a number of social, ethical, and political questions are emerging.
Social scientists have found immediate and enduring social effects of vaccine trials on participants and their communities. While vaccine trials adhere to required bioethics, their everyday ethics are negotiated in the field by frontline workers engaging with communities in specific local contexts.
There is a need to engage with communities where vaccines are tested. There is a need to identify community dynamics and patterns of trust, to integrate participant and community perspectives in deliberations about aspects of trial design and procedures to ensure that specific benefits, concerns, and socio-cultural context are considered. There is also a need to maintain an open dialogue with participants and communities, and to ensure that engagement does not focus simply on ‘misinformation’ or the need for more information but also identifies sources of mistrust and opportunities for community dialogue, and responds to them in dynamic ways.
This is the first of a three-webinar series on the social science of vaccine development and deployment.
In this webinar organized by the COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition, leading social science experts will:
- Highlight how the success of clinical trials can be improved by understanding local dynamics and improving community engagement;
- Present key lessons learned from social science research for community engagement in vaccine trials; and
- Emphasize concrete recommendations for improving community engagement work.
- Mr Kagisho Baepanye | HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) and COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN), South Africa
- Dr Luisa Enria | London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK & Member of the Social Science Working Group
- Dr Primus Chi | KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya
- Dr Salla Sariola | University of Helsinki, Finland & Member of the Social Science Working Group