Promises and Perils of a COVID Vaccine

By Duke GSF

Researchers across the globe are busily working to manufacture a vaccine that will halt the devastating spread of the novel coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, twenty-six vaccine candidates are now in clinical evaluation. As case and mortality rates climb, a vaccine appears to many as the only way out of the pandemic. Yet vaccine development and distribution raise a number of ethical quandaries that cannot be separated from histories of medical violence and mistrust—issues that are compounded by staggering health disparities across communities of color, due to economic and discriminatory practices that disproportionately put them at risk. This workshop brings together experts in history and bioethics to provide insight into these issues and to consider what opportunities vaccination might hold for restorative justice and more equitable forms of preventative care. Organized by Dr. Farren Yero, Postdoctoral Associate in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, the panelists include: Dr. Robin Wolfe Scheffler, Associate Professor at the MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society; Dr. Yolonda Wilson, National Humanities Center Fellow and an Encore Public Voices Fellow; and Elise A. Mitchell, Doctoral Candidate in the Department of History at New York University. A transcript of the event can be found at

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