How Can We Ensure Equitable Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Thursday, July 16, 2020


A COVID-19 vaccine promises to tame a pandemic that has sickened more than 10 million people around the world, left millions without work, and cost national economies trillions of dollars. How can we ensure that a new vaccine is not priced so high poor countries and marginalized populations are left behind? Thursday, July 16 at 11:00am ET, the Aspen Global Innovators Group facilitated a conversation about the urgent need for an accessible, widespread vaccine to effectively combat COVID-19. The conversation featured human rights lawyer and social justice activist Fatima Hassan and public health lawyer, and Priti Krishtel, a veteran of the global access to medicines movement. It was moderated by Dr. Gavin Yamey, the Director of the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health at the Duke Global Health Institute.

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Fatima Hassan, Health Justice Initiative

Fatima Hassan is a South African human rights lawyer and social justice activist and heads the newly established Health Justice Initiative (hji) after a 1-year sabbatical. 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 inter alia as the legal representative of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) at the AIDS Law Project. She has a BA and LL.B from the University of the Witwatersrand and an LL.M from Duke University. She previously clerked at the Constitutional Court of South Africa for Justice Kate O’Regan and served as the Special Adviser to former Minister of Health and Minister of Public Enterprises, Barbara Hogan. She is the former Executive Director of the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, heading the Foundation for 6 years (June 2013 – June 2019). She is also 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 currently serves on the Board of Global Witness. She is the recipient of several fellowships and awards, including the Tom and Andi Bernstein Distinguished Human Rights Fellowship at Yale University’s School of Law and the Franklin Thomas -SA Constitutional Court Fellowship. She has published extensively on issues related to social justice and HIV/AIDS.

Priti Krishtel, Founder, I-MAK

Priti Krishtel is a lawyer and veteran of the global access to medicines movement. In 2006 she co-founded I-MAK, a team of “patent detectives” who expose and challenge how the patent system fuels inequitable access to medicines. After working globally over the last two decades, she is now focused on cracking open the black box that is the U.S. patent office and helping Americans understand how intimately the patent system affects their lives. Krishtel envisions a future in which the patent system better serves the public, no one struggles to access the medicines they need, and people can actively participate in decisions that impact their health.