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3.
Irish Studies in International Affairs ; 32(2):225, 2021.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1702946

ABSTRACT

The relationship between politics and public health is increasingly evident as governments throughout the world vary in their acceptance and implementation of technical guidance in the response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This paper reports a qualitative study of public health policies for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (RoI) across a timeline emphasising the first wave of the pandemic (February to June 2020). Inter-jurisdictional commitments for health as contained in the Good Friday Agreement provide a framework for cooperation and coordination of population health on the island of Ireland. This study of north-south cooperation in the response to Covid-19 applies ten indicators from the Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) codebook to establish if cooperation and policy alignment of key public health measures are evident in the Northern Ireland Assembly and Government of Ireland responses. The study concludes that notwithstanding the historical and constitutional obstacles to an all-island response to Covid-19, there is evidence of significant public health policy alignment brought about through ongoing dialogue and cooperation between the health administrations in each jurisdiction over the course of the first wave of the pandemic.

4.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-309094

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 represents a serious challenge to governments and healthcare systems. In addition to testing/contact tracing, behavioural and social responses such as handwashing and social distancing or cocooning are effective tools for mitigating the spread of the disease. Psychological (e.g., risk perceptions, self-efficacy) and contextual factors (government, public health messaging, etc.) are likely to drive these behaviours. Collated real-time information of these indicators strengthens local, national and international public health advice and messaging. Further, understanding how well public health and government messages and measures are understood, communicated via (social) media and adhered to is vital. There are two governments and public health jurisdictions on the island of Ireland, the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Northern Ireland (NI). This represents an opportunity to explore implications of differing measures and messaging across these two jurisdictions as they relate to COVID-19 on two similar populations. The expert research team are drawn from a range of disciplines in the two countries. This project has four nested studies: <ns4:list list-type="order"><ns4:list-item> Assessment of key behavioural, social and psychological factors through a large, prospective representative telephone survey of individuals aged over-18 on a weekly basis over eight weeks (n=3072);and conduct qualitative focus groups over the same period. <ns4:list-item> Interrogation of social media messaging and formal media responses in both jurisdictions to investigate the spread of (mis)information. <ns4:list-item> Modelling data from Studies 1 and 2, plotting the psychosocial/behavioural and media messaging information with international, ROI and NI incidence and mortality data.  <ns4:list-item> Conducting an assessment of health policy transfer in an attempt to incorporate the most significant public health and political insights from each jurisdiction. The CONTAIN project will develop an evidence-based toolbox for targeting public health messaging and political leadership and will be created for use for the anticipated second wave of COVID-19, and subsequently for future epidemics/pandemics.

5.
Health Policy ; 126(3): 234-244, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1620689

ABSTRACT

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.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Communication , Emergencies , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , United Kingdom
8.
J R Soc Med ; 114(11): 513-524, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1488342

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To offer a quantitative risk-benefit analysis of two doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination among adolescents in England. SETTING: England. DESIGN: Following the risk-benefit analysis methodology carried out by the US Centers for Disease Control, we calculated historical rates of hospital admission, Intensive Care Unit admission and death for ascertained SARS-CoV-2 cases in children aged 12-17 in England. We then used these rates alongside a range of estimates for incidence of long COVID, vaccine efficacy and vaccine-induced myocarditis, to estimate hospital and Intensive Care Unit admissions, deaths and cases of long COVID over a period of 16 weeks under assumptions of high and low case incidence. PARTICIPANTS: All 12-17 year olds with a record of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in England between 1 July 2020 and 31 March 2021 using national linked electronic health records, accessed through the British Heart Foundation Data Science Centre. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Hospitalisations, Intensive Care Unit admissions, deaths and cases of long COVID averted by vaccinating all 12-17 year olds in England over a 16-week period under different estimates of future case incidence. RESULTS: At high future case incidence of 1000/100,000 population/week over 16 weeks, vaccination could avert 4430 hospital admissions and 36 deaths over 16 weeks. At the low incidence of 50/100,000/week, vaccination could avert 70 hospital admissions and two deaths over 16 weeks. The benefit of vaccination in terms of hospitalisations in adolescents outweighs risks unless case rates are sustainably very low (below 30/100,000 teenagers/week). Benefit of vaccination exists at any case rate for the outcomes of death and long COVID, since neither have been associated with vaccination to date. CONCLUSIONS: Given the current (as at 15 September 2021) high case rates (680/100,000 population/week in 10-19 year olds) in England, our findings support vaccination of adolescents against SARS-CoV2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , COVID-19/prevention & control , Hospitalization , Intensive Care Units , Public Health , Severity of Illness Index , Vaccination , Adolescent , Adolescent Health , Age Factors , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/therapy , COVID-19 Vaccines/adverse effects , Child , Child Health , England , Female , Humans , Incidence , Male , Myocarditis/etiology , Risk , SARS-CoV-2 , Treatment Outcome , Vaccination/adverse effects
9.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 18(18)2021 09 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1409580

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 is arguably the most critical science communication challenge of a generation, yet comes in the wake of a purported populist turn against scientific expertise in western societies. This study advances understanding of science-society relations during the COVID-19 pandemic by analysing how science was represented in news and social media coverage of COVID-19 on the island of Ireland. Thematic analysis was performed on a dataset comprising 952 news articles and 603 tweets published between 1 January and 31 May 2020. Three themes characterised the range of meanings attached to science: 'Defining science: Its subjects, practice and process', 'Relating to science: Between veneration and suspicion' and 'Using science: As solution, policy and rhetoric'. The analysis suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic represented a platform to highlight the value, philosophy, process and day-to-day activity of scientific research. However, the study also identified risks the pandemic might pose to science communication, including feeding public alienation by disparaging lay understandings, reinforcing stereotypical images of scientists, and amplifying the politicisation of scientific statements.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Social Media , Humans , Ireland/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
10.
Soc Sci Med ; 282: 114111, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1275720

ABSTRACT

RATIONALE: International border controls were among the earliest and most effective of measures to constrain transmission of COVID-19. However, such measures are complex when established borders are open yet politically contested, as for the border that divides the Republic of Ireland (ROI) from Northern Ireland (NI). Understanding how this border affected the everyday lives of both populations during the pandemic is important for informing the continued development of effective responses to COVID-19 and future health crises. OBJECTIVE: This multi-methods study aimed to explore public perspectives on how the ROI-NI border affected experiences of and responses to the 'first wave' of the pandemic. METHOD: The study collated data from focus groups (n = 8), news articles (n = 967), and Twitter posts (n = 356) on the island of Ireland, which mentioned the ROI-NI border in relation to COVID-19. Thematic analysis was used to explore the range of perspectives on the role played by the border during the early months of the pandemic. RESULTS: Analysis identified three themes: Cross-Border Interdependencies illustrated the complexity and challenges of living near the border; Interpretations of Cross-Border Policy Disparities showed that lay publics perceived NI and ROI policy approaches as discordant and politicised; and Responses to Cross-Border Policy Disparities revealed alternating calls to either strengthen border controls, or pursue a unified all-island approach. CONCLUSIONS: Results reveal clear public appetite for greater synchronisation of cross-border pandemic responses, emphasise the specific vulnerability of communities living near the border, and highlight the risk of long-term socio-political repercussions of border management decisions taken during the pandemic. Findings will inform implementation of pandemic responses and public health policies in jurisdictions that share a porous land border.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Social Media , Focus Groups , Humans , Northern Ireland/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
13.
Cities Health ; 2020.
Article in English | WHO COVID, ELSEVIER | ID: covidwho-790898

ABSTRACT

For over a decade, pandemics have been on the UK National Risk Register as both the likeliest and most severe of threats. Non-infectious ‘lifestyle’ diseases were already crippling our healthcare services and our economy. COVID-19 has exposed two critical vulnerabilities: firstly, the UK’s failure to adequately assess and communicate the severity of non-communicable disease; secondly, the health inequalities across our society, due not least to the poor quality of our urban environments. This suggests a potentially disastrous lack of preventative action and risk management more generally, notably with regards to the existential risks from the climate and ecological crises.

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