UN campaign highlights scientists working on Covid-19 vaccine


Team Halo Initiative shows researchers from around the world involved in fighting the pandemic. Videos posted on social media discourage misinformation and Brazilians are part of the initial group of participants.

Portugal Digital with ONU News

Foto: University of Oxford / John Cairns

Brazilian and foreign scientists who are in the race for the vaccine to end the pandemic will talk about their research in profiles on the social network TikTok.

The action of the United Nations involves professionals from various countries around the world and from academic institutions such as the University of São Paulo, USP, Harvard, Imperial College London and Wits University.

The objective is to update and bring the public closer to the work being carried out in research for vaccines.

The initiative, called #EquipeHalo in Brazil, will reveal the daily lives of scientists, called “guides”, who work with vaccine research in countries like the United Kingdom, United States, South Africa, India and Brazil.

They will voluntarily tell their stories and post videos that highlight the seriousness and commitment of everyone to contain the pandemic, as well as answer questions from the public and clarify rumors and incorrect information.

The scientists intend to highlight the global nature of the work and recognize the contribution of thousands of people around the world.


In Brazil, the initiative begins with three guides: researchers Gustavo Cabral de Miranda and Natalia Pasternak and biophysicist Rômulo Neris. New names will be announced soon.

Gustavo de Miranda leads research on the development of vaccines against the new coronavirus, as well as vaccines for chikungunya and zika virus, at the Immunology Department of USP’s Institute of Biomedical Sciences.

Natalia Pasternak works as a visiting researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at USP, at the Laboratory for the Development of Vaccines, LDV, and director-president of the Instituto Questão de Ciência.

Rômulo Neris, on the other hand, focuses on his doctoral research at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro on how the immune system reacts to the new coronavirus.

In a statement, Natalia Pasternak said that “quality scientific information needs to circulate on social networks in an easy, accessible and didactic way.”

The specialist said that “the anti-vaccine sentiment in Brazil and in the world is growing, and should not be underestimated.” She also said that she participated in a global initiative, representing Brazil, “it is an honor and a great opportunity to spread science in this sea of ​​disinformation.”


UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Melissa Fleming, said disinformation has undermined public confidence in vaccines, but the initiative “aims to regain that confidence.”

Regarding the participating scientists, Fleming said that “they are incredible people making science part of a global collaboration.” For her, it should be “celebrated that these professionals help to put an end to this terrible pandemic.”


TikTok was chosen because it allows researchers to tell serious stories in a creative and engaging way, but the videos can also be followed on Twitter.

The project has the support of Verified, a UN initiative against disinformation, the Vaccine Confidence Project and the Global Alliance of Vaccines – Gavi.

In a statement, the head of TikTok for Europe, Matthew Harris, said the initiative “can help these everyday heroes to educate and reach the public in an engaging way, while helping the community to stay safe. and informed during these challenging times. ”


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