Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

World-leading researchers from the UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator Collaborative consider - how we should evaluate decisions made during the covid-19 pandemic and the future response to pandemic threats.

Panorama portrait collage of people with face masks in everyday life during COVID-19 pandemic

Professor Ilina Singh, the Ethics Accelerator's Principal Investigator, and PI in the Department of Psychiatry, and Co-Director of the Wellcome Centre for Ethics & Humanities at the University of Oxford, said:

'We are going to have to learn how to live with covid-19. The work of the Ethics Accelerator facilitates grappling with the hard decisions through clear-sighted analysis of what is gained and lost in decisions and choices made individually and collectively. As a society, we all will still need to make trade-offs to suppress the virus in the long term. Those decisions will affect us all. For example, the measures to reduce deaths and protect health services have created risks and impacts elsewhere, including increased waiting list times and people becoming reluctant to seek medical help, as well as impacts on mental health, child development and education.

'In terms of mortality, the pandemic is now forcing us to consider what sorts of deaths, and whose deaths should we be most concerned about, as well as the values that underpin such judgments. Untimely or unexpected deaths are something to be avoided – but at what cost?'

'In considering many of these issues, the approach by government has often been top-down. At the heart of future policies informing the covid-19 recovery must lie serious and genuine attempts to engage a range of perspectives, including the wider public in identifying what is important to them. Understanding how publics judge and respond to risks, and the diverse values that influence these judgments, is crucial in shaping effective and ethical pandemic policy.'

The pandemic has seen not only the tragic deaths caused directly by the virus – 130,000 in the UK and the 3 million worldwide – but also the illness caused by long-covid.

There have been indirect impacts on health too, due to postponed treatments, and to people avoiding health and care systems, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment. There have also been mental health impacts, resulting from anxiety, loneliness and isolation. We are going to be living with the wider impacts of covid-19 for a long time and we need to consider what priorities and values should guide us through this next phase and into the future.

A series of thought provoking articles has been written, entitled Living and dying with covid:

For more information on the UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator and to follow on twitter @PandemicEthics_.

NIHR OXFORD HEALTH BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH CENTRE NEWS

Please follow the link below to read the news on the NIHR BRC website.

Similar stories

Treating Needle Fears May Reduce COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Rates by 10%

A new large-scale study shows that a quarter of the UK adult population screens positive for a potential injection phobia. These individuals were twice as likely to report that they were COVID-19 vaccine hesitant – they would put off getting vaccinated or never get the jab.

End-of-Life Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

The first national UK survey focused on those bereaved during the COVID-19 pandemic is published in Palliative Medicine. The survey findings inform important recommendations for service delivery of individualised, compassionate end-of-life care during a pandemic.

Prioritising Wellbeing of Health and Social Care Professionals During COVID-19 Pandemic

The first paper to give voice to health and social care professionals providing end of life care during the pandemic is published in Palliative Medicine, led by researchers at the Universities of Oxford, Liverpool and Sheffield.

Messaging Focused on Personal Rather Than Collective Benefits is More Effective for COVID-19 Vaccination

The largest ever study of COVID-19 vaccine messaging shows that emphasising the personal benefits of vaccination may be the most effective way to persuade people who are sceptical about the jab.

Future-Proofing Mental Health

UK academics are calling for targets for mental health research in order to meet the healthcare challenges of the next decade. Published today in Journal of Mental Health, researchers set out four overarching goals that will speed up implementation of mental health research and give a clear direction for researchers and funders to focus their efforts when it comes to better understanding the treatment of mental health.

Children and Adolescents’ Mental Health: One Year On

Parents and carers reported that behavioural, emotional and attentional difficulties in their children changed considerably throughout the past year, increasing in times of national lockdown and decreasing as restrictions eased and schools reopened, according to the latest Co-SPACE (COVID-19 Supporting Parents, Adolescents, and Children in Epidemics) study, led by experts at the University of Oxford.