The PandemicTech Newsletter: Winter 2021
What we’re working on: The Global Health Security Fund (GHS Fund). Announced on November 30th, 2021, in Geneva during the New horizons for investing in innovations for global health and resilient health systems event organized by UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange during the World Health Assembly. Watch it here.
What we’re excited about: The Youth Declaration for Biosecurity, a call to action launched during the Biological Weapons Convention in November 2021. PandemicTech Innovation Fellows Mayra Ameneiros and Fatima Aziz were two of seven co-authors. Watch here.
What we’re watching: The new Global Health Security Fund launch trailer. Watch it here.
Featured article: 6th EpiAFRIC Health Meets Tech Hackathon: Navigating Healthcare Post-COVID-19 by Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor, PandemicTech Innovation Fellow
Launching the Global Health Security Fund
COVID-19 has taught us that innovative solutions to fighting pandemics are both essential and investible. Local innovators are best equipped to create these solutions for their own communities but often lack resources outside of mature innovation ecosystems, most notably access to early-stage capital. The private sector can’t just sit back and watch. We need to support these innovators by actually investing while building confidence in other impact investors to do the same.
The PandemicTech team has led the formation of the Global Health Security Fund (GHS Fund) to accomplish this goal. The GHS Fund is a Geneva-based philanthropic association dedicated to supporting impact investment in global health security innovation. The GHS Fund convenes key stakeholders in the health security community to support innovators solving challenges in their own communities, particularly in less-developed nations. The GHS Fund then identifies and evaluates those innovations with the greatest potential for financially sustainable development, helps these innovation scale, and ultimately de-risks these innovations to empower investment in their growth.
PandemicTech co-founder Andrew Nerlinger announced the formation of the GHS Fund on November 30th, 2021, in Geneva during the New horizons for investing in innovations for global health and resilient health systems event organized by UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange during the World Health Assembly (watch here). PandemicTech Senior Advisor and Funder Bill Wood also traveled to Geneva to announce his greatly appreciated commitment to provide funding support for the formation of the GHS Fund (watch here). The first two GHS Fund Ambassadors were also announced: renowned Houston-based philanthropists Laura and John Arnold, Co-founders of Arnold Ventures.
PandemicTech will be a key member of this new association and we look forward to the entire PandemicTech team getting involved with this exciting initiative. Stay tuned for more news to come!
Youth Declaration for Biosecurity
“The Youth Declaration for Biosecurity is a call-to-action from the next generation of biosecurity professionals to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) community, containing policy recommendations from young leaders to support youth participation in global biosecurity. It was launched in the margins of the BWC Meeting of States Parties in November 2021.”
“The Youth Declaration for Biosecurity is a result of the Youth for Biosecurity Initiative, implemented by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) with the support of the European Union (EU) under EU Council Decision 2019/97. Following the Second Edition of the Biosecurity Diplomacy Workshop for Young Scientists from the Global South in 2021, a group of young scientists virtually attended the BWC Meeting of Experts on Review of Developments in the Field of Science and Technology Related to the Convention. Empowered by their newly acquired knowledge on biological risks and the BWC, the youth group decided to develop a set of recommendations to mitigate the threat of biological weapons through active and transformative youth engagement. UNODA provided guidance throughout the process.”
“The recommendations were subsequently presented and discussed among a coordinated network of initiatives involving youth on responsible science made up of the following organizations: Nuclear Threat Initiative Global Biological Policy and Programs Team (NTI | bio), the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA), the International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation (iGEM), the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (CHS), and the Next Generation Global Health Security Network (NextGen). Contributing to this youth-led process, additional young leaders in biosecurity then joined the drafting committee…”
We are proud that PandemicTech Innovation Fellows Fatima Aziz (Pakistan) and Mayra Ameneiros (Argentina) joined this prestigious drafting committee and the presentation of the declaration to the BWC in November 2021!
Fellowship spotlight: Mayra Belén Ameneiros
PandemicTech 2021 Innovation Fellow Mayra Ameneiros is passionate about strengthening global engagement in biorisk management. She has participated in several initiatives to foster her career as an emerging leader in biosecurity. Most recently, Mayra completed her role as a mentor in the year-long International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA) Global Mentorship Program and presented two posters at IFBA’s Biosafety Conference along with PandemicTech´s Senior Advisor, Luis Ochoa.
Earlier this year, Mayra participated in the UNODA Biosecurity & Diplomacy Workshop, and after the workshop, she represented the 2021 cohort and the Youth4Biosecurity initiative speaking at various international events including the BWC MX1 in front of all States Parties, where she participated and was able to speak to diplomats after her presentation.
Mayra has presented about and provided training on biosafety and biosecurity during other international events hosted by Colombia National Laboratory Network, Nuclear Threat Initiative, GHSA NextGen, UNODA, iGEM design Academy, SynBio Africa, and the Argentinian Microbiology Association.
This year Mayra received two scholarships, one from the T.M.C. Asser Instituut & the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the second one from The William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies and the National Defense University for WMD, Strategy and Defense Courses.
In addition, Mayra is a member of the steering committees of two international conferences: the Global Health Security Innovation Week in March 2022 and the 2nd ABSA Biosecurity Symposium in May 2022.
Mayra is currently part of the team authoring the next UNIDIR report “Options for International Cooperation under Article X of the Biological Weapons Convention”, and the “Youth Declaration for Biosecurity”.
Mayra has accepted two new positions to expand her work on biosafety and biosecurity. She is the Director of Strategic Engagement & Development at Biopreparedness International, a company that builds and digitizes courses, as well as implements creative tools for knowledge retention, and for improving biosafety and biosecurity practices. She is also a board member of the Biosafety and Biosecurity Consulting Advisory Board (CAB) for a US based company.
Coming Soon: Global Health Security Innovation Week 2022
Saturday, March 12, 2022 9:00 AM to Tuesday, March 15, 2022 5:00 PM US CDT. Virtual via Swapcard. Registration is free and opening in early February.
The Global Health Security Innovation Week 2022 (March 12–15, 2022) is the world’s first conference focused on bringing together the health security and technology innovation communities to define and communicate today’s most pressing challenges in preventing, predicting, detecting, and responding to global health security threats.
Organized by the Texas Global Health Security Innovation Consortium (TEXGHS) in partnership with the Global Health Security Network (GHSN), GHS Innovation Week will emphasize the importance of locally driven innovation in emerging ecosystems (LMICs) and will promote equitable access to technologies and resources for ensuring health security in all communities. Together participants will create a roadmap and a call to action for innovators to solve the most pressing current and future challenges in global health security.
PandemicTech is proud to be a Foundation Sponsor for GHS Innovation Week 2022.
In the News
Opinion by Innovation Fellow Ifeanyi Nsofor on travel bans in response to the omicron variant:
Opinion: I'm shocked by the racist cartoons and travel bans sparked by omicron
Editor's Note: Warning, some of these images contain racist and offensive content. Part of me can't believe that…
Ifeanyi Nsofor quoted on colonial attitudes in global health:
Is Covid-19 magnifying colonial attitudes in global health?
Amruta Byatnal Correspondent A paper called "The Impact of Covid-19 and Strategies for Mitigation and Suppression in…
Ifeanyi Nsofor on the shortcomings of Nigeria’s COVID-19 vaccine drive:
'Where Are the Bodies?': How Nigeria's COVID Vaccine Drive Fell Short
A mask on the statue of Nigerian civil rights lawyer Gani Fawehinmi in Lagos's Liberty Park. Photo: PIUS UTOMI…
Andrew Nerlinger quoted in an article about the UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange event on November 30th, 2021:
UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange hosts dialogue to explore how to connect funding to the most…
On the margins of a special session of the World Health Assembly on pandemic preparedness, the UNAIDS Health Innovation…
Senior Advisor Oyewale Tomori gives an emotional address during Nigeria’s National COVID-19 Summit:
Requiem for a dream
And the virologist wept. Prof. Oyewale Tomori is distinguished. He is a statesman, international public servant and an…
Beyond Tomori's tears for Nigeria
"Anytime I think of Nigeria... (sobs) I speak with passion (then sobs again) I have wept for this country on several…
Oyewale Tomori has been appointed as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 vaccine composition:
Tomori appointed member WHO advisory group - Punch Newspapers
A professor of virology and a former vice chancellor of Redeemer's University, Ede, Oyewale Tomori, has been appointed…
Innovation Fellow Blaine Doyle was interviewed about vaccine uptake and acceptance in Mexico:
The delta wave in Mexico peaked in mid-August while US numbers continued to soar. Here's why
Widespread acceptance of both vaccines and face coverings gets the credit for declining Covid cases in Mexico. MEXICO…
Portfolio company ChektAhora was profiled in Semanario EstiloDF:
¡No bajes la guardia! ChektAhora hace pruebas Covid a domicilio - EstiloDF
La Navidad es una hermosa fecha para compartir con nuestros seres queridos, sin embargo, no podemos olvidar que el…
Innovation Fellow Ikpeme Neto announced a partnership between Wella Health and the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria:
ACPN seeks improved patient care - Punch Newspapers
The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria has advocated improved patient care. The association had partnered…
Innovation Fellow Angel Desai is co-author of the article Climate Change and Infections on the Move in North America:
Climate Change and Infections on the Move in North America | IDR
Climate change is directly and indirectly impacting human health now. The impacts will continue along this trajectory…
Innovation Fellow Amal Kasry gave the keynote at the Global MOOC and Online Education Conference:
We would like to greatly thank our key sponsors — Bill Wood Ventures (Austin, Texas) and the Laura and John Arnold family (Houston, Texas) — for their ongoing support for PandemicTech. Thank you also to the PandemicTech team for the many contributions to this newsletter. It has been incredible to see the many accomplishments of our community in 2021 and we are excited for more great news in 2022. Happy New Year!
— The PandemicTech Team