UK Ethics Accelerator: Coordinating and Mobilising Ethics Research Excellence to Inform Key Challenges in a Pandemic Crisis

Prof Ilina Singh
Professor Julian Savulescu in his office

PI: Ilina Singh

Co-Investigator: Julian Savulescu

UKRI/AHRC (Covid scheme)  for 8 month project

UK Ethics Accelerator: Coordinating and Mobilising Ethics Research Excellence to Inform Key Challenges in a Pandemic Crisis

The COVID-19 crisis demands that policy-makers, researchers, health and social care workers, and members of the public address unprecedented ethical dilemmas on a daily basis. Resolving these is hard, and it is risky. The complexity and speed of ethical challenges are leading to harms—some inevitable, some avoidable—on a significant scale. The main aim of the Ethics Accelerator (EA) is to harness and mobilise existing UK ethics research expertise to bear on these multiple, ongoing ethical challenges. The EA will rapidly provide evidence, guidance and critical analysis to decision-makers, helping to improve decision-making over the evolving pandemic response. A second aim is to enable systematic public deliberation around key ethical challenges. A third aim is to identify strategies to embed ethics at the core of future epidemic preparedness. The EA will leverage and promote a broad network of UK and international researchers to create flexible Taskforces that deliver rapid guidance and responsive advice to leadership in government, science, medicine, and public health. It will establish virtual fora for public discussion, deliberation and information about arising ethical challenges. In coordinating and focusing existing national investments in ethics research, the EA adds significant value and scales up the potential impacts of ethics research in science, medicine, policy and society. Primary outputs will be rapid research reviews; policy guidance; commissioned research; a broad peer review body; and stakeholder engagements. Main outcomes will be decision-making that is informed by ethics expertise, and is more transparent and accountable, thereby improving public trust.

Researchers: Dominic Wilkinson and Jonathan Pugh


Levy, N. and Savulescu, J., (forthcoming), 'After the Pandemic: New Responsibilities', Public Health Ethics, Vol: online 17 March

Pugh, J., Wilkinson, D., Palacios Gonzalez, C. and Savulescu, J., (forthcoming 2021), 'Beyond Individual Triage: Regional Allocation of Life-Saving Resources such as Ventilators in Public Health Emergencies', Health Care Analysis, (online first)

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Practical Ethics in the News blogs

Suspending The Astra-Zeneca Vaccine and The Ethics of Precaution
Published March 16, 2021 | By Jonathan Pugh, Dominic Wilkinson, and Julian Savulescu

Is it Irrational Not to Have a Plan? Should There Have Been National Guidance on Rationing in the NHS? [cross-posted in the Journal of Medical Ethics Blog]
Published March 2, 2021 | By Dominic Wilkinson and Jonathan Pugh

Self-experimentation with vaccines
Published February 24, 2021 | By Jonathan Pugh, Dominic Wilkinson and Julian Savulescu [cross-posted in the Journal of Medical Ethics Blog]

An Ethical Review of Hotel Quarantine Policies For International Arrivals
Published February 23, 2021 | By Jonathan Pugh, Dominic Wilkinson, Julian Savulescu

Cross-Post: Is It Ethical To Quarantine People In Hotel Rooms?
Published February 11, 2021 | By Jonathan Pugh and Dominic Wilkinson [originally published in The Conversation on 11 February 2021]

Cross-Post: Not Recommending AstraZeneca Vaccine For The Elderly Risks The Lives Of The Most Vulnerable
Published February 8, 2021 | By Jonathan Pugh and Julian Savulescu [cross-posted in The Conversation on 5 February 2021]

Ethical Considerations For The Second Phase Of Vaccine Prioritisation
Published January 22, 2021 | By Jonathan Pugh and Julian Savulescu

Even Though Mass Testing For COVID Isn’t Always Accurate, It Could Still Be Useful – Here’s Why
Published January 4, 2021 | By Jonathan Pugh [originally published in The Conversation on 22 December 2020]

Print and online media

The Conversation: Jonathan Pugh, Dominic Wilkinson and Julian Savulescu (16 April 2021)
Learning to live with COVID – the tough choices ahead [cross-posted in Practical Ethics in the News]

LBC Radio: Dominic Wilkinson (17 April 2021)
Outrage over vaccine passports 'an overreaction,' claims medical expert 

The Conversation: Julian Savulescu, Dominic Wilkinson, Jonathan Pugh and Margie Danchin (25 March 2021)
There’s no need to pause vaccine rollouts when there’s a safety scare. Give the public the facts and let them decide

The Conversation: Jonathan Pugh and Dominic Wilkinson (11 March 2021)
COVID vaccines: is it wrong to jump the queue?