Ethical considerations in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Policy Briefing

Published 17/03/2020

Ethical considerations in responding to the COVID 19 pandemic Page 01

This rapid policy briefing outlines ethical principles that must be considered when developing public health measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has indicated a number of further public health
measures may be needed in order to manage the COVID-19 pandemic in the
UK. The current situation (as of 17 March 2020) is summarised in the
annex, including an overview of the Government’s action plan of
‘contain, delay, research and mitigate’.


The following review of ethical considerations 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. For further commentary on the
ethical considerations associated with research into COVID-19, see the
Nuffield Council blog The ethical imperative of preparedness.

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