Today the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has published a briefing on the key questions for the next phase of the UK’s response to COVID-19.

As the number of cases continue to rise in the UK, the Government is introducing public health measures in response, with the anticipation that more restrictive measures may be required as we head towards winter. This will be a challenging phase and we believe the Government must address a number of questions in order to ensure public trust.

Our latest publication highlights the key ethical questions that remain about the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our ten questions for Government are:

  1. What values have informed the most recent decisions on COVID-19 restrictions?
  2. Is the government considering the use of “immunity certificates” in the next phase of the response?
  3. How will development of an effective COVID-19 vaccine affect uptake - and what should be done?
  4. What discussions are taking place on setting priorities for vaccine allocation within the UK?
  5. How will the UK ensure a sustained commitment to global solidarity?
  6. How is information about underlying inequalities which have been exposed by COVID-19 featuring in decision-making - and what action will be taken longer term?
  7. How will public trust and solidarity in the COVID-19 response be ensured?
  8. What support is to be given to those bearing the greatest burdens?
  9. How will new measures take account of principles of respect and fair and equal treatment?
  10. What next?

Underlying all of this is the need to engage with, and account in a transparent way, to all sections of society for the decisions that are taken. This is essential for trust and trustworthiness. These are not straight-forward questions, and answers can only come from open and informed policy and public debate. It is critical that ethical deliberation is a part of that.

Over the course of the pandemic, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has provided support, information, and advice to ensure that ethics is a key consideration in rapidly developing governmental and societal responses to the pandemic, particularly in the UK. All of our work in COVID is available here.