The UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator Project
The UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator project examined the ethical challenges faced during pandemics. It combined expertise from the Universities of Oxford, Bristol, Edinburgh, University College London, and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.
This six-part podcast series is hosted by David Edmonds and covers some of the themes that emerged from the research. This six-part series can be listened to at University of Oxford Podcasts and at pandemicethics.uk (transcripts are also available to download).
Episode 1: Ilina Singh
The Pandemic Ethics Accelerator programme was led by Ilina Singh, an Oxford Professor of Neuroscience and Society. Here she explains what the programme was, what it was designed to achieve and whether it succeeded.
Episode 2: Jonny Pugh
Vaccines to combat Covid were developed in record time. But policy-makers then faced a tricky question. It was impossible to vaccinate everyone immediately: so who to inoculate first? Jonathan Pugh, of Oxford University’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, says there were complex trade-offs.
Episode 3: Melanie Smallman and James Wilson
During the height of the Covid pandemic we became accustomed to watching, listening to and reading about experts in health statistics. How many people tested positive for the disease in the past 24 hours, how many died, were the number of cases rising or falling, and so on. James Wilson, professor of philosophy at University College London, and Melanie Smallman, associate professor of science and technology studies at UCL, have been researching the use, and sometimes misuse of pandemic data.
Episode 4: Sarah Cunningham Burley
During an emergency – such as the Covid 19 pandemic – there’s not a lot of time for official bodies to consult the public. Sarah Cunningham Burley is a professor of Medical and Family Sociology at Edinburgh University. She oversaw some dialogues with members of the public in an attempt to assess public attitudes to the pandemic, and to the government’s response.
Episode 5: Beth Kamunge-Kpodo and John Coggan
The Pandemic affected different groups and communities differently. Lockdown wasn’t so tough for people with gardens than it was on those living in apartments with no outside space. There were also disproportionate impacts measured by ethnicity, gender and geography. Beth Kamunge-Kpodo and John Coggan are both legal scholars – both interested in inequality.
Episode 6: Jamie Webb
At the height of the first pandemic lockdown the Prime Minister’s high-profile aide Dominic Cummings travelled to Durham with his family to stay on his parents’ estate – in apparent flouting of the stay-at-home rules. It then transpired that on his wife’s birthday, Cummings had taken another 30-mile trip to the scenic Barnard Castle. He said he just ended up there after a journey to quote, “test his eyesight”. The Cummings episode had an effect on how people viewed the government. Specifically, it undermined trust. But what exactly is trust? And how does it differ from trustworthiness. Why are trust and trustworthiness so vital during a pandemic. Jamie Webb is at the University of Edinburgh.
The Pandemic Ethics Accelerator Project website
University of Oxford Podcasts (audio and transcript files)