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Health Policy ; 126(3): 234-244, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1620689


The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the complex relationship between science and policy. Policymakers have had to make decisions at speed in conditions of uncertainty, implementing policies that have had profound consequences for people's lives. Yet this process has sometimes been characterised by fragmentation, opacity and a disconnect between evidence and policy. In the United Kingdom, concerns about the secrecy that initially surrounded this process led to the creation of Independent SAGE, an unofficial group of scientists from different disciplines that came together to ask policy-relevant questions, review the evolving evidence, and make evidence-based recommendations. The group took a public health approach with a population perspective, worked in a holistic transdisciplinary way, and were committed to public engagement. In this paper, we review the lessons learned during its first year. These include the importance of learning from local expertise, the value of learning from other countries, the role of civil society as a critical friend to government, finding appropriate relationships between science and policy, and recognising the necessity of viewing issues through an equity lens.

COVID-19 , Pandemics , Communication , Emergencies , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , United Kingdom
Br J Health Psychol ; 26(4): 1238-1257, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1379562


OBJECTIVES: The Scientific Pandemic Insights group on Behaviours (SPI-B) as part of England's Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), were commissioned by the UK Cabinet Office to identify strategies to embed infection control behaviours to minimize Covid-19 transmission in the long term. METHODS: With minimal direct evidence available, three sources of information were used to develop a set of proposals: (1) a scoping review of literature on sustaining behaviour change, (2) a review of key principles used in risk and safety management, and (3) prior reports and reviews on behaviour change from SPI-B. The information was collated and refined through discussion with SPI-B and SAGE colleagues to finalize the proposals. RESULTS: Embedding infection control behaviours in the long-term will require changes to the financial, social, and physical infrastructure so that people in all sections of society have the capability, opportunity, and motivation needed to underpin those behaviours. This will involve building Covid-safe educational programmes, regulating to ensure minimum standards of safety in public spaces and workspaces, using communications and social marketing to develop a Covid-safe culture and identity, and providing resources so that all sections of society can build Covid-safe behaviours into their daily lives. CONCLUSIONS: Embedding 'Covid-safe' behaviours into people's everyday routines will require a co-ordinated programme to shape the financial, physical, and social infrastructure in the United Kingdom. Education, regulation, communications, and social marketing, and provision of resources will be required to ensure that all sections of society have the capability, opportunity, and motivation to enact the behaviours long term.

COVID-19 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , United Kingdom
BMJ Glob Health ; 6(6)2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1255587


Dealing with excess death in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the question of a 'good or bad death' into sharp relief as countries across the globe have grappled with multiple peaks of cases and mortality; and communities mourn those lost. In the UK, these challenges have included the fact that mortality has adversely affected minority communities. Corpse disposal and social distancing guidelines do not allow a process of mourning in which families and communities can be involved in the dying process. This study aimed to examine the main concerns of faith and non-faith communities across the UK in relation to death in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The research team used rapid ethnographic methods to examine the adaptations to the dying process prior to hospital admission, during admission, during the disposal and release of the body, during funerals and mourning. The study revealed that communities were experiencing collective loss, were making necessary adaptations to rituals that surrounded death, dying and mourning and would benefit from clear and compassionate communication and consultation with authorities.

Attitude to Death , COVID-19 , Pandemics , COVID-19/mortality , Humans , Qualitative Research , United Kingdom/epidemiology