The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has published a new policy briefing setting out the key ethical considerations relevant to public health measures being introduced to manage the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.

Download the policy briefing.

Key points

  • The briefing note says that public health measures need to be evidence-based and proportionate.
  • The aims of any interventions and the factors bearing on policy decisions should be clearly communicated to the public.
  • Coercion and intrusion into people’s lives should be the minimum possible consistent with achieving the aim sought.
  • People should be treated as moral equals, worthy of respect. While individuals may be asked to make sacrifices for the public good, the respect due to individuals should never be forgotten in the way in which interventions such as quarantine and self-isolation are implemented.
  • Solidarity is crucial at the international level between countries, by businesses in how they exercise their corporate social responsibility; and at the individual level in the way we all respond to the outbreak in day-to-day life.

The briefing draws on the findings of a number of in-depth inquiries conducted by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, including those concerned with public health, solidarity, and research in global health emergencies.

All of our recent publications concerning COVID-19 can be found here.