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Ethics and politics of infection

The Ethics and Politics of Infection node focusses on the ethical and policy implications of preparedness and response strategies designed to deal with infectious disease challenges in Australia and globally.

This includes new genomics and surveillance technologies, targeted vaccination programs and infection control measures introduced to prevent pathogen transmission in various settings including healthcare, agriculture or landscape management. The node brings together University of Sydney researchers in public health ethics, social sciences, economics, medicine, infectious diseases, agriculture, environmental and veterinary sciences to address today’s infectious diseases challenges of emerging or re-emerging pathogens, AMR and infections that predominantly impact vulnerable populations.

Ethics of infectious disease surveillance

Our ability to protect the public from infectious diseases has been advanced by new genomics and data technologies that enable enhanced surveillance, contact tracing and tailored outbreak responses. However, ethical considerations such as privacy, social disruption and unintended health and economic impacts need to be examined so that these technologies can be implemented in ways that maximise benefits to public health. Delphi studies, citizen juries and discrete choice experiments led by Lyn Gilbert, Chris Degeling and Jane Johnson are assessing the limits of public acceptance for linking personal and pathogen genomics data. These qualitative research efforts complement ethical framework analyses of the issue led by Sydney Health Ethics Director, Angus Dawson. Together, these ethical enquiries will inform the development of surveillance technology guidelines that expertly balance individual risk and community benefit for prevention of infectious disease outbreaks.