Social, ethical and behavioural aspects of COVID-19
Pan-ngum W., Poomchaichote T., Cuman G., Cheah P-K., Waithira N., Mukaka M., Naemiratch B., Kulpijit N., Chanviriyavuth R., Asarath S-A., Ruangkajorn S., Silan M., Stoppa S., Zuanna GD., Ongkili D., Cheah PK., Osterrieder A., Schneiders M., Mackworth-Young CRS., Cheah PY.
Introduction: Vaccines and drugs for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19 require robust evidence generated from clinical trials before they can be used. Decisions on how to apply non-pharmaceutical interventions such as quarantine, self-isolation, social distancing and travel restrictions should also be based on evidence. There are some experiential and mathematical modelling data for these interventions, but there is a lack of data on the social, ethical and behavioural aspects of these interventions in the literature. Therefore, our study aims to produce evidence to inform (non-pharmaceutical) interventions such as communications, quarantine, self-isolation, social distancing, travel restrictions and other public health measures for the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: The study will be conducted in the United Kingdom, Italy, Malaysia, Slovenia and Thailand. We propose to conduct 600-1000 quantitative surveys and 25-35 qualitative interviews per country. Data collection will follow the following four themes: (1) Quarantine and self-isolation (2) social distancing and travel restrictions (3) wellbeing and mental health (4) information, misinformation and rumours. In light of limitations of travel and holding in-person meetings, we will primarily use online/remote methods for collecting data. Study participants will be adults who have provided informed consent from different demographic, socio-economic and risk groups. Discussion: At the time of the inception of the study, United Kingdom, Italy, Malaysia, Slovenia and Thailand have initiated strict public health measures and varying degrees of “lockdowns” to curb the pandemic. These public health measures will change in the coming weeks and months depending on the number of cases of COVID-19 in the respective countries. The data generated from our study could inform these strategies in real time.