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Public health decisions in the COVID-19 pandemic require more than ‘follow the science’


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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