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Details for new seminars for 2022 to be confirmed soon.

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Governance, Ethics, and the ACT-Accelerator


The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is a global collaborative effort to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, therapies, and vaccines (the latter being pursued through its COVAX pillar). Key to accomplishing its mission is establishing which organizations are playing which roles in ACT-A decision-making and ensuring such decision-making is informed by a robust ethical decision-making framework. This seminar will explore the challenges and opportunities related to the governance and ethics of the ACT-Accelerator.
Read the briefing note.

Restricting population movement during COVID-19: ethics and justifications


In the COVID-19 pandemic, varying approaches to restricting population movements have been implemented globally with the aim of limiting transmission and providing time to scale up diagnostic, prevention and treatment capacities. However broad restrictions, including lockdowns, are associated with significant social and economic burdens, which are inequitably distributed. This seminar reviews questions about when and how restrictions can be ethically justified in a pandemic, and when they should be lifted. 

Briefing note | blog Article

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Epidemic Ethics: COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters: when & why?


Chaired by Professor Michael Parker and featuring panelists Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, Dr Kate O'Brien, and Dr Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, this Epidemic Ethics virtual seminar explored the ethical considerations surrounding the provision of  COVID-19 vaccination boosters. Given significant inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines within and between countries, the panel sought to answer a range of questions not just about the value of providing boosters to specific populations, but also whether and how boosters might be justifiable while so many are still waiting for their initial vaccine doses.

Briefing note | blog article

The impact of COVID-19 on mental health research practice: ethical issues


Global Forum on Bioethics in Research (GFBR) and Epidemic Ethics jointly hosted virtual seminar explored the ethics of how mental health research practice has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Discussion included the ethical implications of transferring face-to-face research online and what safeguards are needed to protect the wellbeing of participants at a time when support from the research team or external services may be reduced due to social distancing and other restrictions. How do we ensure ethically robust mental health research in the time of COVID-19 and how best can researchers involve people with lived experience in the design of research as it transitions to the digital world?

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Epidemic Ethics: Children and COVID-19 Vaccination: Ethical impacts and considerations


This timely Epidemic Ethics webinar focused on the  topic of vaccinating children against COVID-19. Chaired by Dr Lisa Forsberg, and a featuring a panel of experts Dr Anthony Skelton, Dr Govind Persad, and Professor Beate Kampmann, it sought to explore a range of ethical issues and challenges relating to paediatric vaccinations against COVID-19, including known risks and benefits in the context of uncertainity, vaccine mandates, off-label prescribing, and finally, whether that, given the fact COVID-19 is a mild illness in children, should paediatric vaccinations be delayed until the most vulnerable are vaccinated globally?

Briefing note           Children and COVID 19 vaccination blog article 



Epidemic Ethics: Balancing COVID-19 with other priority health needs


This webinar sought to answer how we can balance addressing COVID-19 with other priority health needs? Chaired by Dr. Adnan Hyder, and featuring panellists Professor Debora Diniz, Dr Caesar Atuire, and Dr. Bridget Pratt ir considered a range of questions, including what are other priority health needs and how has the pandemic impacted these, and how should we strike the balance between addressing COVID-19 and other health priorities in both the context of public health, healthcare, and research?

Read the full briefing here

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Epidemic Ethics: Governing Global Health in Pandemics: Evolution and Lessons Learned


Chaired by Professor Lawrence O. Gostin and featuring panellists Professor EK Yeoh, Professor Suerie Moon, and Dr Mark Eccleston-Turner, this webinar discussed where and how global health governance has succeeded in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, where and how it has failed, and finally what are the key ethical lessons we've learned in terms of governing during a global pandemic. 

Epidemic Ethics: Challenges and ethical implications of distinguishing between research and rollout in pandemic responses


The scale and pace of health research in the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an exceptionally rapidly evolving evidence base, with governments and public health authorities rolling out strategies for COVID-19 diagnosis, treatment and prevention at an unprecedented rate. In such circumstances, it can be challenging to distinguish between research and public health, particularly when the interventions being researched may also be implemented in evolving public health responses. This seminar looks at the moral grounds for drawing distinctions between research activities and public health practices in a pandemic, and the implications of such distinctions for how they are conducted, governed, and communicated about with relevant populations.

Read the full briefing here

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Epidemic Ethics: Adapting ethics review to the COVID-19 pandemic


It is of critical importance to conduct research during public health emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, research and the ethical review of research in these contexts present unique challenges, including the rapidity with which research and ethical review must occur. This seminar will explore the unique challenges associated with the ethical review of research during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlight the manner in which ethical review has adapted to address these challenges over the past year, and identify future opportunities for ethical review of research during public health emergencies.

Read the full briefing here | Further reading and guidance

Epidemic Ethics: Ethical considerations in alternative COVID-19 vaccination strategies


Faced with scarce and uncertain COVID-19 vaccine supplies, many countries are considering adopting vaccination schedules that differ from the recommendations of vaccine manufacturers. Some have extended the interval between doses for two-dose vaccines to provide at least some protection for a larger number of people sooner. Others are looking at maximizing the number of people receiving some degree of protection by administering partial doses or foregoing the second dose of two-dose vaccines altogether. A third approach under consideration is whether two different COVID-19 vaccines could be given at the same time, to complete a two-dose vaccination regimen in one visit. Deviations from manufacturer's recommendations could be seen as experimental, and have the capacity to threaten public confidence, but they might also avert substantial morbidity and mortality in populations. This seminar will explore the ethical considerations that ought to guide decision-making regarding adopting alternative vaccination strategies or implementing vaccine manufacturer recommendations. 

Read the full briefing here | Read the associated publication here



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Epidemic Ethics: Vaccine diplomacy during the COVID-19 pandemic


COVID-19 vaccines are one of the most important resources on the planet. Consequently, how these precious resources are used and shared (or not) has the capacity to significantly impact relationships between countries. Indeed, COVID-19 vaccines can and have been used and shared (or not) as a means of building or managing international relations. As a result, some have argued that vaccine production capacity and/or excess vaccine supply can position countries as diplomatic and moral powerhouses. Given commitments and efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines fairly, vaccine diplomacy warrants ethical scrutiny to ensure it helps to further this aim. This seminar explores the ethics of vaccine diplomacy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full briefing here

Epidemic Ethics: A Grand Experiment: Ethical responsibilities in the global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines 


The unprecedented speed and scale of global rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines is playing a critical role in effectively responding to the pandemic. Decisions about global vaccine rollout have been made rapidly, informed by best available clinical research findings. What ethical responsibilities arise to monitor the safety and effectiveness of pandemic vaccines which are rolled out while still being evaluated in clinical trials? Globally, as over eight million doses of COVID-19 vaccines are received per day, what mechanisms should exist to ensure the sustained capacity to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of vaccination?

Read the full briefing here


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Epidemic Ethics: Mandates and special privileges for COVID-19 vaccination


With COVID-19 vaccination underway or on the horizon in many countries, many are turning their attention to whether the vaccination should be made mandatory, and if so, under what conditions, for whom, and in what contexts. This webinar will explore the ethics of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination both in general and in particular settings (e.g., health care settings), as well as examine the ethics of affording special privileges to those who are vaccinated, e.g., to travel and to gather in large groups.

Read the full briefing here

Epidemic 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.

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Epidemic Ethics & 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.

Epidemic Ethics & 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

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Epidemic Ethics 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

Epidemic 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?)

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Epidemic Ethics: 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?

Epidemic 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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Epidemic Ethics: 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.


Epidemic Ethics: 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?


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Epidemic Ethics: 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.


Epidemic Ethics: 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.

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Epidemic Ethics: 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.

Epidemic Ethics: 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.

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Epidemic Ethics: 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 Epidemic Ethics, 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.