With the worst of the pandemic behind us, even as our country starts to return to normal life, challenging ethical questions remain. How should we evaluate the decisions that were made in the first waves of the covid-19 pandemic? What decisions should we make now? And how should we respond to future pandemic threats? For example, can there ever be an ethically acceptable level of deaths from an infectious threat, and how could such a thing be determined? Do we need to learn to live with covid-19? Do we need to change our ways of living to minimise future infections? These are challenging and controversial questions that cannot be avoided.
World-leading researchers from the UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator collaborative – which has received £1.4M funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Research and Innovation rapid response to covid – have started to consider these difficult questions from different perspectives. An expert panel was available to discuss these and other ethical questions today with journalists.
Prof Ilina Singh, the Principal Investigator for project, Professor of Neuroscience & Society in the Department of Psychiatry, and Co-Director of the Wellcome Centre for Ethics & Humanities at the University of Oxford
Prof Dominic Wilkinson, consultant in newborn intensive care at the John Radcliffe Hospital and Director of Medical Ethics and Professor of Medical Ethics at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Dr Sarah Chan, Deputy Director of the Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and Law, University of Edinburgh
Prof John Coggon, Professor of Law in the Centre for Health, Law, and Society at the University of Bristol