The COVID-19 Vaccine: A Warm Welcome or the Cold Shoulder?

Panel Discussion

Saturday November 28th 11:00 AM EST / 5:00 PM CET

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The COVID-19 virus has all but stopped the world in its tracks. Given current predictions, COVID-19 will continue to impact us for months, if not years to come, permeating virtually every facet of daily life. With the death toll continuing to rise, an effective vaccine is increasingly seen as the best, most viable solution to curtailing the spread of the virus. With the race to a vaccine in what appears to be its final stages, much attention has been given to its development, safety, and distribution. 

However, in much the same way that facial coverings and social distancing have been coopted by partisan politics, fears are rising that the COVID-19 vaccine is becoming as much a political tool as it is a matter of public health. This, along with the continued rise of vaccine hesitancy and mounting support of conspiracy theories surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, coalesce into a topic of both significant interest and importance. 

With our speakers, we want to explore the potential reception of the COVID-19 vaccine in both the United States and Europe, as well as discuss possible opportunities for transatlantic collaborations in the vaccination effort.

The event will begin with a 40-minute moderated discussion. Questions from the moderator will highlight the intersection of the COVID-19 vaccine with each of the speakers’ unique areas of expertise. The event will close with 20 minutes of audience questions

Attendance for this event is not limited. Just like all events at the virtual German American Conference 2020, the event is open to the public and free of charge.


Syra Madad

Senior Director, System-wide Special Pathogens Program at New York City Health + Hospitals

Dr. Syra Madad is part of the NYC Health + Hospitals COVID-19 Tiger Team that provides support in infection prevention, control and emergency management. She leads a team on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response across three service lines – hospitals, ambulatory care and long-term care facilities. In addition, Dr. Madad supports numerous other COVID-19 initiatives including NYC’s “Test, Trace and Take Care” program. She helps manage the isolation protocols and quarantine hotels for suspected and confirmed patients, conducts assessments of alternate care and testing sites, and ensures all clinical sites have plans for the resurgence of COVID-19. She also leads the health and safety team of over 1,800 contact tracers as part of the Enhanced Investigations Unit of NYC’s contract tracing program. 

In addition, Dr. Madad is part of the COVID-19 Expert Taskforce for the Federation of American Scientists, contributor to ad hoc workgroups at the National Academy of Sciences and Core Faculty of the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center.

Karl Lauterbach

Member of the German Parliament and Professor of Health Economics and Clinical Epidemiology at University of Cologne

Karl Lauterbach is Professor of Health Economics and Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Cologne, Member of the Deutsche Bundestag and Adjunct Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health.

He studied medicine in Germany and San Antonio, and he received his first doctoral degree at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine at the Nuclear Research Centre in Julich.

In addition to a postdoc at the Harvard School of Public Health, he pursued a Master of Public Health and Doctor of Science in Health Policy and Management. He was a fellow of the Program of Ethics and the Professions (1992) and a fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard (1993). Since 1998 Prof. Lauterbach has been Director of the Institute of Health Economics and Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Cologne. 

He is one of the leading experts on the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany and one of the most important policy makers in the containment of the pandemic.

Wayne Koff

Founding President and CEO of the Human Vaccines Project

Wayne Koff, PhD., is the founding President and CEO of the Human Vaccines Project, a non-profit R&D consortium focused on decoding the human immune system to accelerate vaccine development.  In 2019, Dr. Koff was named by Foreign Policy along with the Obamas, Angela Merkel and others as one of the 100 Global Thinkers who have “had a profound impact on the planet.” Prior to joining the Project, Koff served as CSO and Sr. VP of R&D at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). At IAVI, his accomplishments included developing multiple HIV vaccines through clinical trials; establishing state-of-the-art laboratories in the U.S., Europe, India and Africa; conducting the first HIV vaccine trials in India, Kenya and Rwanda; and establishing the Neutralizing Antibody Consortium, which identified potent neutralizing antibodies against HIV that are currently in development.  Dr. Koff has published over 100 scientific papers and edited eight books on vaccine development.

Abby Goodnough

Health Care Reporter at The New York Times

Abby Goodnough is a national health care reporter for The New York Times, reporting from around the country on how federal and state policy decisions affect people and places. She has written extensively about the coronavirus pandemic, focusing on poor and underserved populations. Over eight years on the health beat, she has also reported deeply on the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, the opioid epidemic and other addiction issues. She was previously the Times bureau chief in Boston and Miami.