The politics of vaccines: Development and delivery

Chelsea Clinton, John-Arne Røttingen, Soumya Swavinatham and Rajeev Venkayya.
Open to the public
July 2020

Ongoing efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 have highlighted a number of intricate political and ethical questions for policymakers: How should governments balance commitments to developing a vaccine in comparison to capacity to test, trace and isolate? Is 'vaccine nationalism' a threat to fair distribution of the vaccine and, if so, who should the global community prioritise if a vaccine is developed? What are the implications of vaccine development on pharmaceutical business models?

Join Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation; John-Arne Røttingen, Chief Executive of the Research Council of Norway and Visiting Fellow of Practice (2019–20) at the Blavatnik School of Government; Soumya Swavinatham, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization; and Rajeev Venkayya, President of the Global Vaccine Business Unit at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, to discuss the issues around vaccine development and delivery. The discussion will be moderated by Maya Tudor, Associate Professor of Government and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government.

Please note: This event will take place online via Zoom and be streamed live on YouTube. Please register using the form below and you will be emailed a link with instructions on how to watch the event nearer the time.

About the speakers

Chelsea Clinton is Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, where she works alongside the Foundation’s leadership and partners to help create economic opportunity, improve public health, and inspire civic engagement and service across the United States and around the world. Chelsea focuses on promoting early brain and language development through the Too Small to Fail initiative, and uplifting and empowering female entrepreneurs and women-led businesses around the world through initiatives like the Caribbean-focused Women in Renewable Energy (WIRE) Network. She also serves on the boards of the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. In addition to her Foundation work, Chelsea teaches at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and has written several books for young readers, including the New York Times bestsellers She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World and She Persisted Around the World.

Chelsea holds a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford, a Master of Public Health from Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, and both a Master of Philosophy and a Doctorate in international relations from Oxford University. She lives with her husband Marc, their children Charlotte, Aidan, and Jasper, and dog Soren in New York City.

John-Arne Røttingen is the Chief Executive of the Research Council of Norway, working internationally on issues on global governance of research and innovation and on open science. He is also a Visiting Fellow of Practice (2019–20) at the Blavatnik School of Government and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He was until recently the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); Executive Director of Infection Control and Environmental Health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health; and Professor of Health Policy at the Department of Health Management and Health Economics, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo. He has been Chief Executive of the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services; Oxford Scholar at Wadham College; Fulbright Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School; Chair of the Board of the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research; and Chair of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG), World Health Organization.

He received his MD and PhD from the University of Oslo, an MSc from Oxford University and an MPA from Harvard University.

Soumya Swavinatham is Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), and formerly its Deputy Director-General for Programmes. A paediatrician from India and a globally recognised researcher on tuberculosis and HIV, she has 30 years of experience in clinical care and research and has worked throughout her career to translate research into impactful programmes. Soumya was Secretary to the Government of India for Health Research and Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research from 2015 to 2017. In that position, she focused on bringing science and evidence into health policymaking, building research capacity in Indian medical schools and forging south-south partnerships in health sciences. From 2009 to 2011, she also served as Coordinator of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases in Geneva.

She received her academic training in India, the UK and the US, and has published more than 350 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. She is an elected Foreign Fellow of the US National Academy of Medicine and a Fellow of all three science academies in India. She has previously been on several WHO and global advisory bodies and committees, including the WHO Expert Panel to Review Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property; the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group of the Global TB Department at WHO; and, most recently, was Co-Chair of the Lancet Commission on TB.

Rajeev Venkayya is President of the Global Vaccine Business Unit at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. He leads a vertically integrated business developing vaccines for dengue, norovirus and Zika. Rajeev serves as an independent member of the board of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), and is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to joining Takeda, Rajeev served as Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program and served on the board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Before that, he was the Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense at the White House. In this capacity, he oversaw US preparedness for bioterrorism and biological threats and was responsible for the development and implementation of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza.

Rajeev trained in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where he also served on the faculty. He was a resident and Chief Medical Resident in internal medicine at the University of Michigan. He received his BS/MD from the Northeast Ohio Universities College of Medicine, where he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha honorary medical society.