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New DFG-funded COVID-19 research project: Uneven geographies of vaccine manufacturing in the Global South

In February 2022 a new project has started in the research group. Uli Beisel and Madlen Hornung, in collaboration with colleagues at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in Brazil, University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, University of Ghana and the University of London in the United Kingdom, have received funding in the “COVID-19 Focus Funding: Impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic in the Global South: Health Systems and Society” program of the German Research Foundation. Our 12-month project interrogates how fair access can be built into the design of vaccines and critically, their manufacturing processes. The pace of COVID-19 vaccine development has been nothing short of remarkable. In under a year from when genomic sequence of the novel coronavirus was made publicly available, millions of people around the world had received one of many viable candidates. Despite this tremendous achievement the global impact and public health value of these critical tools remains to be demonstrated. Vaccine equity, already a long-standing focus of global health concern, has, in the current crisis, become a lightning rod for geopolitical debate. In this context, it is critical to understand how technology transfer is being achieved in countries of the Global South that have limited vaccine production capacities so far. We aim to provide in-depth analysis of the tech-transfer and collaborative production processes in South Africa, Ghana and Brazil. Through the collaboration between social science scholars in the Americas, the African continent, United Kingdom and Germany, we hope to pilot a more substantive international research collaboration that accompanies the accelerated efforts to build up and strengthen vaccine-manufacturing efforts in the Global South. Studying vaccine R&D and manufacturing from a social science perspective will elaborate comparative insights for how social and global (in)justice is currently being enacted in these processes and could be in the future. Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), COVID-19 Focus Funding: Impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic in the Global South: Health Systems and Society Funding Period: 2021-2022 Project Team:Prof. Dr. Andrew Barry, Department of Human Geography, University College London, United Kingdom; Prof. Dr. Uli Beisel, Department of Human Geography, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany; Dr. John Kuumuori Ganle, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Ghana; Germany; Dr. Nele Jensen, Department of Global Health & Social Medicine, Kings College London, United Kingdom; Dr. Ann H. Kelly, Department of Global Health & Social Medicine, Kings College London, United Kingdom; Dr. Gustavo Matta, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), Brazil; Prof. Dr. Richard Rottenburg, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; Vinayak Bhardwaj, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; Madlen Hornung, Department of Human Geography, Freie Universität Berlin; Ester Rede, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), Brazil

Feb 24, 2022 | Centre for Development Studies

New Berlin University Alliance Project: Re-Scaling Global Health - Human Health and Multispecies Cohabitation on an Urban Planet

Uli Beisel and Charrlotte Adelina, in collaboration with partners from HU Berlin, TU Berlin, Charité as well as a network of transdisciplinary and international partners, have received funding from the Berlin University Alliance in their program “Exploration Projects of the Grand Challenge Initiative on Global Health”. Our 3-year exploratory grant will analyze urban human-animal-environment relationships and how they affect human health in urban spaces. The project investigates the multiple links between health, biodiversity, and environmental pollution. The history of urbanization in conjunction with globalization, particularly since the industrial revolution, has repeatedly given rise to widespread contagious diseases. While pandemics have existed throughout history, their rate of occurrence has been increasing dramatically since the 1960s. Increasing urbanization and its effects on land use change, global mobility patterns, and environmental pollution are key interdependent drivers of this process. The effects of such urbanization patterns on biodiversity loss make (animal) populations more susceptible to the spread of viruses. We see a clear connection between urbanization, biodiversity, and global health that our project seeks to investigate in detail. If we want to work towards improving both human and ecosystem health, we need to pay close attention to the complexities of urban habitats and processes of urban environmental change, untangling the main drivers of urbanization and the interplay between biodiversity and human health. Our project brings together a transdisciplinary team of urban scholars from the social sciences, the humanities, urban design and planning fields with ecologists and virologists to work towards conceptualizing and empirically examining the complex relationship between human health and the urban environment. Conceptually, the aim is to advance a theory and practice of multispecies urbanism that understands the environment not as a passive backdrop but as an active agent co-producing urban space and affecting human and more-than-human health. Working together with our transdisciplinary project partners, we take on the imagination challenge of reconceptualising urban health through a multispecies lens; and, we take on the implementation challenge of developing strategies and solutions for a practice of multispecies cohabitation with the ultimate goal of building healthier and more equitable urban futures. The project will be developed through four to five urban case studies that build on our existing expertise and networks (Berlin, São Paulo, Melbourne, and Nairobi in collaboration with long-term local collaborators funded through other projects) as well as establishing new collaborations (New Delhi, Singapore) thereby enabling comparative research themes to emerge along with the development of grounded theory. The project will be operationalized through explorative sub-projects developed with cross-cutting themes and in transdisciplinary teams as a starting point for a wider research agenda to be advanced over the three years. Funding: Berlin University Alliance Funding Period: 2022 – 2025 Project Team: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Beisel, Freie Universität Berlin; Prof. Dr. Dorothee Brantz, Technische Universität Berlin; Prof. Dr. Ignacio Farías, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Prof. Dr. Sandra Jasper, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; PD Dr. Sandra Junglen, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin; Prof. Dr. Jörg Niewöhner, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Prof. Dr. Jörg Stollmann, Technische Universität Berlin; Dr. Tanja Straka, Technische Universität Berlin; Charrlotte Adelina, Freie Universität Berlin  

Feb 24, 2022 | Centre for Development Studies