Ethics briefing

Journal of Medical Ethics 48 (4):285-286 (2022)


In parts of the world, discussion regarding COVID-19 has shifted towards endemicity, and questions of living with, rather than directly battling, the virus. As a result, ethical questions are being refocussed. The imperative is beginning to shift towards what we can learn from the pandemic, and how we can better prepare for future global outbreaks. Among the questions that need to be addressed is what Covid-29 has taught us about how research can be conducted ethically during major global public health emergencies. It is widely accepted that research has an essential role to play in improving the effectiveness of health interventions in major public health crises.1 Even before COVID-19, a special series published in The Lancet highlighted the critical role of research in humanitarian crises, and lamented the paucity of good data on the effectiveness of health interventions in these particularly demanding contexts.2 The impact of expedited vaccine research on the mortality, morbidity and global disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic would be difficult to exaggerate. But it is clear that one important driver of vaccine hesitancy was public concern about the speed with which research into the vaccines was undertaken and hence the reliability of the data concerning their safety.3 Although for understandable reasons, the focus of attention on ethical research during the COVID-19 pandemic has been on vaccines and anti-virals, research in public health emergencies involves a wide range of activities designed to generate evidence, including social science research – which can be particularly critical in understanding barriers to vaccine uptake for example – along with epidemiological studies and health systems research. One widely acknowledged area of ethical tension concerning research in public health emergencies is between the need for rapid ethical review, and the strong moral requirement …

Download options


    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,694

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

2 (#1,458,613)

6 months
2 (#259,525)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Ethics Briefing.Sophie Brannan, Ruth Campbell, Martin Davies, Veronica English & Rebecca Mussell - 2014 - Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (9):647-648.