Health and society
Access all of our work relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today we have signed the WHO’s vaccine equity declaration. The declaration calls on all countries to work together in solidarity – and in each of their best interests – to ensure that vaccination of health workers and older people will be underway in all countries within the first 100 days of the year.
15 Feb 2021
The prospect of safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 is good news for everyone towards the end of a grim year. Of course, caution is still advisable with as yet no certainty as to how long the vaccine might work or whether there might be adverse side effects for certain groups. There are also a host of ethical issues that need to be addressed.
24 Nov 2020
Just at the point where vaccine trials are showing promise, levels of infection circulating in the general population in the UK are relatively low. This is obviously good news from many perspectives – but makes the next stage of testing more difficult. Is one possible answer human challenge trials?
24 Jul 2020
23 Jun 2020
COVID-19 antibody testing and 'immunity certification': a discussion paper
This paper was prepared as background to inform the Nuffield Council on Bioethics policy briefing on COVID-19 antibody testing and immunity certification. The paper is intended to provide a more detailed overview of key ethical, social and policy issues, and is published to further promote and stimulate discussion of the issues that it identifies.
29 May 2020
Fair and equitable access to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines
This rapid policy briefing highlights the key challenges for policy makers, regulatory bodies, industry, and research institutions to ensure fair and equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine.
A mantra of recent government policy reporting in recent weeks is that they are only following the science. The science recommended the lockdown, and the science will let us know when it can be relaxed, apparently. It tells us what tests need to be done for whom and what protective equipment is needed for whom. How exactly can it do this?
29 Apr 2020
In their recent statement on digital contact tracing, NHSX, the NHS Unit leading digital transformation of the NHS, acknowledge that the public will need to trust this new technology for it to be effective in tackling COVID-19, and that NHSX will seek to earn that trust by working with ‘transparent standards of privacy, security and ethics’.
28 Apr 2020
It’s amazing how much (and how many people) we trust in and how reliant we are on trust. Imagine a world in which you never trusted your doctor to try to do her best for you. In an emergency such as the present one when things are so uncertain trust matters even more. But you cannot just command trust (‘Trust me I am an expert/Minister/whatever’) and when trust has been built up over time it is very easy for it to be destroyed in an instant.
20 Apr 2020
There is urgency to the situation that we all face. But urgency does not absolve those responsible for decision-making of the moral duty to involve those who are affected; to engage with the communities that they represent and seek to protect; and to be transparent about the basis on which decisions are being considered and are being made.
16 Apr 2020
At some point in this terrible pandemic doctors will have to make some unbelievably difficult life and death decisions. It is the point at which the demand for the intensive life saving resources outstrips their supply. At that point doctors will have to decide who receives care and who does not. No one should have to make such decisions, and yet they will have to be made.
27 Mar 2020
Legal and policy responses to COVID-19 rest on and express the balance of different basic values and principles. Earlier and current regulatory approaches bring into sharp relief how liberty must be understood and weighed against other values. This is for the sake of liberty itself, but crucially too for other compelling aspects of social justice.
26 Mar 2020
A brief analysis of what the Government is doing now to contain COVID-19, the possible restrictive measures that they might take to prevent and control the spread, why these might be justified, and why it is important that the Government sets out publicly – and early - the case for implementing such restrictive approaches.
27 Feb 2020
03 Feb 2020