The Oxford Martin Programme on
for Infectious Disease
As drugs and vaccinations have proliferated, protection from disease has increasingly been seen as an individual problem requiring individual action. But antimicrobial resistance, vaccine refusal, and rapid global trade and travel have substantially undermined the impact of the drugs and vaccines that we have come to take for granted.
Although significant resources are devoted to the scientific investigation of the way that diseases spread, the ‘human factor’ has largely been ignored.
Understanding the effects of policy, individual and group behaviour and psychology on the genesis and control of infectious diseases will allow us to identify how responsibility for infectious diseases - and the strategies that might be employed to mitigate them - is distributed throughout the world.
Collective failure to manage the human factor contributes to the threat of infection, and the very real consequences for those afflicted by diseases such as influenza, malaria and childhood infections. Devising, implementing and enforcing a strategy to remedy this will require a behaviour change derived from a new understanding of collective moral responsibility.
Bringing together zoology, history, philosophy, psychology and medicine, our four-year project addresses the central research question: What is the role of collective responsibility in the genesis of, and appropriate response to, the threat of infectious disease? Having identified what we should expect to encounter in terms of infectious threats, and their social and economic consequences, if the world sticks to ‘business as usual’, we will, amongst other things:
- investigate individual and collective moral responsibility in this context
- identify psychological and historical factors relevant to the spread of disease
- define collective responsibility in a useful, practical way
- examine implications of potential strategies for fundamental and legal rights
- investigate how techniques from psychology and behavioural economics might be used to increase a sense of collective responsibility and improve behaviour
- identify and recommend solutions
We seek to generate disease-specific policy recommendations for collective action on influenza, malaria, antibiotic resistance and vaccine-preventable childhood infections. With the ultimate ambition to create a new climate of collective responsibility for infectious disease, and to ensure that policy makers, public health and medical professionals, and individuals are mobilized to confront and tackle the human factor in infectious diseases.
Typhoid: A ghost of the past that never really went away
For most people living in the United States and Europe, typhoid is a distant memory, a ghost of a disease from another time. But typhoid never disappeared. For many people living in low- and middle-income countries, typhoid is endemic and an all too common risk faced predominantly by children. Samantha Vanderslott and Claas Kirchhelle examine what we need to do to ensure everyone is protected from typhoid.
Publicly-funded clinical trials were crucial for COVID-19 vaccines; do the same for antibiotics
The triumph of COVID vaccine development, and the identification of effective treatments like dexamethasone, were only possible because of unprecedented coordination of clinical trials.
Oxford Martin School academics recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours
Three Oxford Martin School academics have been included in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, in recognition of their research and contributions to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 elimination, not mitigation, creates best outcome for health, economy, and civil liberties
Countries that aimed for COVID-19 elimination registered fewer deaths, better economic performance, and less restrictions and lockdowns, shows a paper published today in The Lancet.
Alice in Typhoidland wins Gold Medal for learning game
Neglecting an ancient disease has triggered a health emergency around the world
Writing in The Conversation, Claas Kirchhelle and Samantha Vanderslott look at how new extensively drug-resistant variants of an ancient and deadly disease – typhoid fever – are spreading across international borders.
Book Launch: Anne Schwenkenbecher: 'Getting our act together: collective moral obligations' chaired by Julian Savulescu
Prof Julian Savulescu and Dr Samantha Vanderslott in conversation: "Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination: the arguments for and against"
Alice in Typhoidland Launch Event
Panel: (Inter)nationalising the antibiotic pipeline: public options for antibiotic R&D
Waves of attention: patterns and themes of international antimicrobial resistance reports, 1945–2020
Vaccine nationalism and internationalism: perspectives of COVID-19 vaccine trial participants in the United Kingdom
NIMble innovation—a networked model for public antibiotic trials
SARS-CoV-2 elimination, not mitigation, creates best outcomes for health, the economy, and civil liberties
Setting the standard: multidisciplinary hallmarks for structural, equitable and tracked antibiotic policy
Make it new: reformism and British public health