The WHO Health Ethics and Governance Unit invites proposals which address the ethics of COVID-19 public health preparedness and response. (Please note that we will also accept proposals that look beyond COVID-19 to focus on preparedness and response and research in public health emergencies more generally.) This call for proposals has been issued to support both the work of the Unit and PHEPREN (the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Ethics Network), which is currently focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research proposals may address any significant ethical aspects of public health preparedness and response to COVID-19.
Themes of interest to WHO and PHEPREN include:
Vulnerabilities & inequalities – stigma & discrimination, social determinants of health, structural inequalities, vulnerable populations, global health justice
Resource allocation – approaches to allocating scarce health-related resources within pandemic contexts (including vaccines & therapeutics, personal protective equipment, and clinical care for a range of health needs)
Political responsibilities – preparedness & public health responses, solidarity & collective interests, individual interests & rights, policy-making, corruption
Containment approaches – including population-wide & targeted requirements for physical distancing, isolation & quarantine, proposals for immunity certifications
Surveillance & monitoring – including the use of digital technologies i.e. apps and algorithms to monitor and model population movements and COVID transmission patterns
Engagement & communication – participatory approaches & access to reliable information, information needs, miscommunication & misinformation, competing discourses, social media & infodemics
Health systems – clinical ethics, public health ethics, MEURI & emergency use of unproven clinical interventions outside research, health-worker interests & responsibilities
Data & sample sharing – sharing pathogen samples, genomic, pathogen, research, clinical, epidemiological & surveillance data, and research methods & outputs
Research prioritisation & oversight – accelerated research pathways, approaches to ethical and regulatory review, including strengthening local ethics review, community & participant interests, dissemination & publication