*   Most recent seminars   *

Epidemics Ethics: Effective COVID-19 vaccine(s)?


The development of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine will represent a significant triumph. Yet, perhaps counter-intuitively, this could raise rather complex ethical questions and challenges for other COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. For instance, if a vaccine were to be authorized for emergency use, would it be unethical for vaccine trials to continue to employ placebo control arms? If not, should trial participants be discouraged from withdrawing from trials and accessing authorized vaccines? What methodological approaches should be used to generate evidence on COVID-19 vaccines after interim results for vaccines are available and vaccines are authorized or approved for use outside of clinical trials? This seminar will explore the ethical implications of promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates for vaccine research in 2021.

Click here to view this seminar in full screen. 

Click here to view this seminar in full screen. 

PHEPREN & GFBR Joint Seminar: Ethics of research in pregnancy


Recent evidence suggests that pregnant women are at a higher risk of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, compared with age-matched women who are not pregnant. Yet the historical and systematic exclusion of pregnant women from research continues in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a lack of evidence for this population. How can pregnant women be ethically and safely included in research and what part should researchers play in this? What role is there for community engagement to reconcile cultural norms and beliefs with the ethical and clinical rationale for research during pregnancy? And how do current governance mechanisms and regulation help or hinder the inclusion of pregnant women in research?

Read the full briefing and find further details and background reading.

PHEPREN & GFBR Joint Seminar: Ethics of adaptive trial designs


The urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the investigation of multiple potential therapies in a timely way. In this context, adaptive trials are taking place to investigate multiple treatments and that are intended to continue beyond the evaluation of any one treatment. These complex trials have the potential to answer more questions efficiently and improve care for research participants by dropping therapies that are shown to be ineffective, but they present challenges. How should the risks and benefits be communicated to participants, understanding that the benefit:harm ratio may change over the course of the study? What consent model is appropriate for such dynamic trials? And how can regulators and research ethics committees be supported to understand and evaluate these statistically and logistically complex trials?

Read the full briefing here

Please watch these two introductions before the main seminar

Click here to view this seminar in full screen. 

Click here to view this seminar in full screen. 

PHEPREN and GFBR Joint Seminar: Ethics of data sharing in health research


Data sharing has the potential to increase scientific efficiency by maximising the availability and utility of data, and can be critical to generating knowledge during a public health emergency. But how can we share for maximum benefit and least harm, and without exacerbating existing inequalities between researchers from well-resourced and low-resourced settings? What do we need to do to ensure that data sharing policies and processes are respectful of participants and communities and what governance mechanisms need to be in place before patient data can be shared and used in health research?

Read the full briefing

Epidemics Ethics: COVID-19 vaccination in an era of vaccine hesitancy


In 2019, WHO named vaccine hesitancy one of the ten greatest threats to global health. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many are pinning their hopes for a return to normalcy on an effective vaccine, understanding vaccine hesitancy takes on greater urgency and complexity. In a public bombarded by misinformation, subjected to unprecedented restrictions in the name of public health, affected by increasingly polarised/politicised debate, will COVID-19 vaccine programs gain the acceptance and trust needed to be successful? (And what will happen if they don't?)

Click here to view this seminar in full screen. 

Click here to view this seminar in full screen. 

Setting priorities for COVID-19 vaccine allocation


If and when a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, there will not be enough to vaccinate everyone who wants it. Difficult decisions will have to be made about the allocation of available vaccines both between and within countries. What values should guide vaccine allocation in a world where governments face competing obligations to their own people and to the global community, and in societies where COVID-19 and control measures have such disparate outcomes for different people?

Epidemics Ethics: Covid: A case for research exceptionalism?


The current COVID-19 pandemic has reignited calls to amend, adapt and short-cut the research design process. But does the current pandemic and the need for an urgent response necessitate that we rethink our current research models? What can we learn from the discussions that have occurred in and following past outbreaks on appropriate research design, especially the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak? Does there necessarily need to be a trade-off between scientific rigour and speed? What role can ethicists play in supporting the global research community to undertake scientifically and ethically robust research in this current pandemic?


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Ethicists advising public health authorities: opportunities and challenges


The COVID-19 pandemic has raised a number of distinctive and profound ethical challenges. It is therefore unsurprising that public health authorities have turned to ethicists for advice when developing and implementing policies and measures in their pandemic response. This has created many opportunities for ethicists to enhance the moral quality of public health decision-making; however, it has also raised a number of challenges, both substantive and procedural. This seminar presents the experiences and perspectives of ethicists who have played key roles in advising public health authorities in four countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.


An Epidemic of Research: publication ethics during a public health emergency


The urgency and global nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in health research being undertaken at an unprecedented scale. This has been accompanied by a race to disseminate, share and publish data and findings, which in turn has led to retractions, questionable peer review, and pre-publication peer review via twitter, resulting in confusion amongst researchers, regulators, and the public. What has this meant for credibility of science and trust in the scientific enterprise? What are the real costs here? How can publishing models accommodate our need for urgency, research integrity and trustworthiness when they're needed most?


Click here to view this seminar in full screen. 

Click here to view this seminar in full screen. 

Beyond ‘good enough’: How to engage communities with COVID-19 research quickly and effectively


Response to COVID-19 requires rapid research to develop vaccines, treatments and other kinds of urgently needed knowledge. Previous public health emergencies have demonstrated that good community engagement helps move research forward, ensures it is feasible, relevant, and accepted, and that its findings are taken up. But how can it be done quickly, and in the midst of lockdowns? On this webinar we will explore these questions, and hear from the experts how to bring Good Participatory Practices to COVID-19 research.


Digital Technologies and their Ethical Application during the COVID-19 Pandemic

01 June 2020

Digital technologies, including those that utilize artificial intelligence, are increasingly being used to aid COVID-19 surveillance and response efforts. While these digital technologies, such as digital proximity tracking technologies, will undoubtedly play an important role, their use raises important ethical and governance concerns. This webinar will discuss the use of digital technologies, the ethical and human rights implications of their use, and possible ways forward in implementing such technologies in a manner that upholds and promotes key ethical norms.

Click here to view this seminar in full screen. 

Click here to view this seminar in full screen. 


COVID-19 Human Challenge Studies: Is it OK for research participants to volunteer to be infected?

18 May 2020

As widespread use of safe and efficacious vaccines for COVID-19 could save many lives and enable governments to ease restrictive control measures, there is an urgent ethical imperative for well-designed and carefully conducted research to develop such vaccines and increase relevant scientific knowledge regarding SARS-CoV-2. Controlled human infection studies, also known as human challenge studies, have been proposed as one means of testing the many vaccine candidates for SARS-CoV-2. While this has attracted considerable attention with wide calls for COVID-19 challenge studies, the research community is divided over their ethical acceptability.

COVID-19 Immunity Passports: Inevitable? Ethical?

04 May 2020

Assuming that recovery from COVID-19 brings a measure of immunity, some have proposed that the detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus could serve as the basis for an ‘immunity passport’ that would enable individuals to travel or to return to work. While health officials and scientists continue to review the evidence on antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection, critical ethical questions related to stigma, health inequities, and the evidential basis for the use of immunity passports must be addressed.

Click here to view this seminar in full screen. 

Click here to view this seminar in full screen. 

Why should ethics be front and centre to the response to COVID-19. Is it?

20 April 2020

This is the first online seminar from PHEPREN (Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Ethics Network), the newly launched global community of bioethicists, established to provide real-time, trusted, contextual support to communities, policy makers, researchers, and responders in relation to the ethical issues arising out of global health emergencies.