WEBINAR | Operational Experience for COVID-19 Vaccine Trials: Lessons from the Field

With over 80 COVID-19 vaccine candidates now in phase I, II, or II clinical trials, social, ethical, and political questions continue to emerge. Social scientists have found immediate and enduring social effects of vaccine trials on participants and their communities. Whilst vaccine trials adhere to bioethics, their everyday ethics are negotiated in the field by frontline workers engaging with communities in specific local contexts. This is especially so when research elicits local concerns that are expressed through rumors, gossip, conspiracy theories, and alternative explanatory models. Building good relations between researchers and communities requires engaging with these rumors, as they articulate local interpretations of medical research ethics.

There is a need to engage communities where vaccines are tested – to identify community dynamics and patterns of trust, and to integrate participant and community perspectives in deliberations about aspects of trial design and procedures to ensure trial investigators take into account-specific benefits, concerns, and socio-cultural context when planning and conducting studies. There is also a need to maintain an open dialogue with participants and relevant 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 potentials for community dialogue and responds to them in dynamic ways.  

In this webinar, the second in a series on social science research related to vaccine trials, attendees will hear from social science and community engagement experts who will draw on their experiences from clinical trials during COVID-19 and past epidemics. Speakers will share and discuss issues related to everyday ethical and practical challenges in community engagement work.  

The objectives of this social science webinar series include 

  • To present lessons learned from community engagement in vaccine and other clinical trials to inform current and planned COVID-19 vaccine trials. 
  • To discuss operational strategies that could ensure that a COVID-19 vaccine trial is culturally and ethically responsive, contextually informed, and community-engaged. 

Webinar recording

  • Roundtable discussion + audience Q&A
  • Key questions: What are the everyday challenges of being a local social scientist working on clinical trial community engagement? What were the ethical challenges in your everyday work? What are some lessons learned for COVID-19 vaccine trials?
  • Discussants:


MODERATOR: Prof. Shelley Lees (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom & Co-Chair of the Social Science Working Group )


  • Mr Mahmood H. Bangura (University of Makeni & EBOVAC-Salone, Sierra Leone) 
  • Ms Noni Mumba (KEMRI – Welcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya) 
  • Dr Malina Osman (Universiti Putra Malaysia) 
  • Mr Benjamin Shukuru Kasiwa (World Vision & Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs, Democratic Republic of Congo) 
  • Mr Grace Kasereka (Sonder Collective, Democratic Republic of Congo) 

To register for this event please visit the following URL: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/5016026886590/WN_aTL854nuT9-jd2ADNO9YcQ →



17 March 2021 - 15:00

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