Presented by GCI Health

Vaccines, variants, and the future of
the pandemic response:

A conversation with Dr. Soumya Swaminathan

June 16, 2021

9 a.m. ET | 3 p.m. CET


Presented by:

GCI Health


About the Event

On Wednesday, June 16, Devex hosted a conversation presented by GCI Health with the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine rollout, how the latest research is developing, and what more can be done to ensure vaccine equity.

Swaminathan was appointed WHO’s first chief scientist in March 2019. A pediatrician from India and a globally recognized researcher on tuberculosis and HIV, she brings with her 30 years of experience in clinical care and research and has strived throughout her career to translate this work into impactful programs.

This exclusive conversation with Devex Associate Editor Amruta Byatnal examined the challenges of combating COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, how governments can prepare for another wave of cases amid emerging variants, and what to expect from therapeutics in the months to come.


9:00 a.m. ET

Interview with WHO Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminithan

Moderator: Amruta Byatnal, associate editor, Devex

9:35 a.m. ET

Fireside chat with GCI Health's Executive Vice President of Global Health & Corporate Responsibility, Trey Watkins


Amruta Byatnal

Amruta Byatnal

Associate Editor, Devex

Amruta Byatnal is an Associate Editor at Devex based in New Delhi. She reports on global health, gender and human rights. Previously, she worked for News Deeply and The Hindu. She is a graduate of Cornell University where she studied international development.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan

Chief Scientist, WHO

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan was appointed WHO’s first Chief Scientist in March 2019. A paediatrician from India and a globally recognized researcher on tuberculosis and HIV, she brings with her 30 years of experience in clinical care and research and has worked throughout her career to translate research into impactful programmes. Dr. Swaminathan 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 policy making, 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.

Trey Watkins, MPH

Trey Watkins, MPH

Executive Vice President, Global Health & Corporate Responsibility, GCI Health

Trey Watkins is a senior global health and development advisor with 15 years’ experience working in strategic communications, advocacy, public policy and external relations in a variety of health areas with leading NGOs and foundations, the private sector and across the United Nations system. In his current role, Trey leads the global health and corporate responsibility offering for GCI Health, a global healthcare communications and public affairs agency, where he advises clients across a variety of areas to help address critical global health challenges in a shifting landscape.

GCI Health is a global integrated healthcare communications agency Inspired by People. Our approach across disciplines, including public relations, public affairs, advocacy and policy, is rooted in looking at all stakeholders – patients, caregivers, HCPs, policymakers, and payers – as people with distinct perspectives that shape how they think about the health of communities around the world.

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