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Press Release | 30/04/2021

Collaborative Research to Fight the Pandemic: The GIGA Engages in New German–Latin American Health Centre

The GIGA is part of the new, multidisciplinary German–Latin American Centre of Infection & Epidemiology Research and Training – GLACIER.

    COVID-19 has brought two things clearly into view: that infectious diseases are a global problem that can be solved only by global efforts, and that medical and social approaches must go hand in hand if sustainable solutions are to be found. Based on this understanding, the GIGA has joined the new, multidisciplinary German–Latin American Centre of Infection & Epidemiology Research and Training – GLACIER – which has recently been granted five-year funding by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), thanks to a special funding initiative by the German Federal Foreign Office for four global health centres in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.

    Hamburg, 30 April 2021 – GLACIER will be a model of international research cooperation as it brings together leading research institutions on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in Germany, Mexico, Cuba, and six Central American countries. It is jointly led by the Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie (IPB) / Martin-Luther-Universität in Halle-Wittenberg and the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin with its renowned Institute of Virology; the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM) and the University of Havana (HU) will be key network partners in the region.

    The GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies will be integral to the interaction between life sciences and social sciences. A research project led by the GIGA in cooperation with the University of Costa Rica will conduct a comparative study of COVID-19 vaccination policies – and the associated political debates and conflicts – in the eight Latin American countries that are part of the GLACIER project. GIGA lead researcher Professor Bert Hoffmann explains, “If vaccinations are central to the containment of the pandemic, this is not only a medical question, but it raises manifold political and societal challenges – from the procurement of vaccines to their equitable and ethical distribution, and regarding the role of international NGOs, state actors, and civil society groups.”

    As Professor Juliana Martínez Fronzoni from the University of Costa Rica’s Center of Research and Political Studies underscores, “The project is a unique opportunity to generate academic knowledge of great social and practical relevance. Public policies on COVID-19 vaccination are part of the struggle for more inclusive social policies in the region.”

    In line with the GIGA’s commitment to promote research with real-life impact, researchers’ interaction with practitioners and stakeholders in all of the involved countries is an integral part of the project. “Comparing vaccination policies across different countries will help to identify best practices,” Prof. Hoffmann argues. Prof. Martínez adds, “This cooperation provides a bridge not only between researchers in Germany and Central America, but also between the social and the life sciences and between scholars and practitioners.”

    Contact: Prof. Dr. Bert Hoffmann Lead Research Fellow Phone: +49 (0)30 - 250 40 987 Email: bert.hoffmann@giga-hamburg.de