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Public health decisions in the COVID-19 pandemic require more than ‘follow the science’
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  1. Thana Cristina de Campos-Rudinsky1,
  2. Eduardo Undurraga2
  1. 1 Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA
  2. 2 Government, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
  1. Correspondence to Dr Thana Cristina de Campos-Rudinsky, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA; tccampos{at}princeton.edu

Abstract

Although empirical evidence may provide a much desired sense of certainty amidst a pandemic characterised by uncertainty, the vast gamut of available COVID-19 data, including misinformation, has instead increased confusion and distrust in authorities’ decisions. One key lesson we have been gradually learning from the COVID-19 pandemic is that the availability of empirical data and scientific evidence alone do not automatically lead to good decisions. Good decision-making in public health policy, this paper argues, does depend on the availability of reliable data and rigorous analyses, but depends above all on sound ethical reasoning that ascribes value and normative judgement to empirical facts.

  • ethics
  • philosophical ethics
  • decision-making
  • public policy

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @thana_campos

  • Contributors Both authors contributed equally to the manuscript. TCdC-R led the writing process and contributed the ethical analysis and EU contributed to the health policy examples and revisions.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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