Social sciences on coronavirus

Researchers from across the Social Sciences Division are addressing the complex and developing societal and economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic

Policies to eliminate Covid instead of mitigating it through lockdowns were better for the economy and saved more lives, study claims (Mail Online)
Dr Samantha Vanderslott, Social Sciences Researcher on the Oxford Martin Programme on Collective Responsibility for Infectious Disease, is among researchers behind a new paper published in The Lancet that argues that countries that aimed to eliminate - rather than mitigate - COVID-19 registered fewer deaths, better economic performance and fewer restrictions and lockdowns.
29 April 2021

Social costs of pandemic will be felt for a decade, report suggests (ITV News)
Kevin Grecksch, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Faculty of Law, contributes to major report on the long-term societal impacts of COVID-19.
23 March 2021

The ‘logistics of rolling out’ UK coronavirus vaccine is the ‘biggest challenge’
Dr Peter Drobac, Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford, says the biggest challenge for the UK coronavirus vaccine will be the logistics of rolling it out.
5 December 2020

Melinda Mills addresses vaccine concerns on BBC Radio 5Live
"There's a difference between anti-vaxxers and people who are uncertain."
3 December 2020

Good University Guide: Oxford named University of the Year 2021 (The Times)
The University of Oxford has been named University of the Year 2021 for work on the coronavirus vaccine and efforts to improve social mobility. "The university’s academics have also been among the most prominent sources of public information to demystify the coronavirus and scrutinise the government’s actions throughout the crisis," Education Correspondent Nicola Woolcock writes.
18 September 2020

Carl Benedikt Frey: Covid-19 will accelerate automation (New Statesman)
The Director of the Future of Work Programme at the Oxford Martin School explores how the pandemic is reshaping the global labour market.
2 September 2020

Covid-19: Rise in kids attacking parents in UK lockdown 
A new study by Professor Rachel Condry (Faculty of Law) and partners at the University of Manchester describes how the ‘pressure cooker’ environment in British homes during lockdown has seen a ‘significant’ rise in children and adolescents attacking parents in already volatile households.
20 August 2020

Philip N Howard: ‘Social media need a radical rebuild’ (The Guardian) 
Philip Howard, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, argues that democracy's rebuild requires putting the best data about public life and shared problems back into our libraries.
15 August 2020

How COVID-19 has accelerated interest in environmental issues (Because Business)
'It comes down to how you think about the future', says Dr Aoife Brophy Haney, departmental research lecturer in innovation and enterprise at Saïd Business School and the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.
14 August 2020

Researchers turn to wearable tech in race to track Covid-19 (The Telegraph)
Dr Brent Mittelstadt, Senior Research Fellow & British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, comments on the complications posed by the demographic and geographic skew of device-ownership.
11 June 2020

The ‘Ostrich Alliance’: Coronavirus and the world leaders embracing denial, quackery and conspiracy (The Telegraph) 
Thomas Hale from the Blavatnik School of Government comments that, according to Oxford's Government Response Tracker, links between how countries have responded to the crises and how they are governed are not clear cut.
5 June 2020

Coronavirus: How the advertising industry is changing (BBC News)
Andrew Stephen, L'Oréal Professor of Marketing at the Saïd Business School, reflects on how the advertising industry is changing in response to COVID-19.
28 May 2020

Coronavirus: Could travel distance be factor in why more men may be in hospital with COVID-19? (Sky News)
Analysis from the Oxford COVID-19 Impact Monitor, co-led by Dr Adam Saunders (Department of Education) and Dr Matthias Qian (Department of Economics), shows that men have moved further than women before and during the UK’s lockdown.
27 May 2020

Coronavirus: a growing number of people are avoiding news (The Conversation)
Antonis Kalogeropoulos, Research Associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, explores the reasons behind this marked increase in news avoidance - and why it matters.
26 May 2020

Heed lessons of 2008 crisis, experts warn global leaders (The Guardian)
Brian O'Callaghan, DPhil student at the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment, comments on why economic stimulus should be about more than just increasing next year’s GDP.
20 May 2020

Universities beware: shifting classes online so quickly is a double-edged sword (The Guardian)
Associate Professor in International Human Rights Law at the Faculty of Law, Shreya Atrey reflects on questions of privacy, equipment, and teaching methods.
20 May 2020

Coronavirus school closures impact 1.3 billion children – and remote learning is increasing inequality (The Conversation)
Victoria Nash Deputy Director and Policy and Research Fellow, and Rebecca Eynon, Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor at the Oxford Internet Institute, on using technology to educate in ways that promote broader social good as the debate over school reopenings continues.
18 May 2020

Archaeology shows how ancient African societies managed pandemics (The Conversation Africa)
British Academy Global Professor at the School of Archaeology, Shadreck Chirikure explores what evidence from Africa's past can teach us about our response to the present crisis.
14 May 2020

Environmental activism goes digital in lockdown – but could it change the movement for good?
Bill Finnegan, DPhil candidate in the School of Geography and the Environment, explores whether climate protests will return to the streets when social distancing measures are eased, or whether 'clicktivism' spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic marks a turning point in environmental activism.
7 May 2020

Destination: green airline bailouts
Should we bailout airlines affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? Should we demand a plan for net zero in return for public money? And how could this work? Brian O'Callaghan, DPhil candidate in Energy Finance, and Professor Cameron Hepburn, Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, address these questions.
6 May 2020

COVID and climate change: How to kill two birds with one stone
A team led by Professor Cameron Hepburn, Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, finds that investing in a green recovery from the pandemic will deliver short-term growth, long-term economic gains, and tackle climate change. Further coverage in The New York Times: Green recovery can revive virus-hit economies and tackle climate change, study says
5 May 2020

This is a key moment in the public's view of mainstream news (The Guardian) Alan Rusbridger, chair of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, reflects on how this crisis feels like a decisive moment in how citizens think of mainstream news.
3 May 2020

Contact tracing apps, testing, and why it's important that we learn (faster) from other countries (Channel 4 News)
Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government, in conversation with Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
1 May 2020

Why South Africa needs to ensure income security beyond the pandemic (The Conversation)
Dr. Liz Fouksman, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the African Studies Centre, underlines why there can be no return to 'business as usual' after the easing of lockdown.
30 April 2020

Lockdown was no mistake, but indefinite lockdown would be a disaster (The Telegraph)
Karthik Ramanna, Professor of Business and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, on why the answer to the question of when to lift the lockdown is not merely scientific, but economic too.
28 April 2020

Coronavirus: Crowdless app offers shoppers supermarket crowd levels (BBC News)
The social enterprise Lanterne (co-founded by DPhil student Alex Barnes in the Department of International Development) have created Crowdless ( a free app for iOS and Android which provides real-time data on how crowded supermarkets and other places are, to help people socially distance effectively. The app is one of 13 ventures in the Oxford Foundry's portfolio responding directly to the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more on
27 April 2020

It’s time to admit our COVID-19 ‘exit strategy’ might just look like a more flexible version of lockdown (The Conversation)
Toby Phillips, Head of Research and Policy (Digital Pathways at Oxford) at the Blavatnik School of Government, explores the lessons to be learned from other countries, and what life might look like after lockdown.
21 April 2020

Coronavirus is the biggest disaster for developing nations in our lifetime (The Guardian)
Now more than ever we must show solidarity with those beyond our borders, says Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development at the Oxford Martin School.
21 April 2020

COVID-19 mortality highly influenced by age demographics
The research, from Jennifer Beam Dowd, Melinda Mills and colleagues at the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, University of Oxford and Nuffield College, emphasises the potential for dramatically higher fatality rates in countries and localities with older populations.
17 April 2020

Mental health and brain research must be a higher priority in global response to tackle COVID-19 pandemic
A paper published in The Lancet Psychiatry, co-authored by Professor Andrew Przybylski at the Oxford Internet Institute, highlights an urgent need to tackle the harmful impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and potentially the brain, and calls for research on these areas to be central to the global response to the pandemic.
16 April 2020

Coronavirus shows we are not at all prepared for the security threat of climate change (The Conversation)
The pandemic is a sort of climate 'stress-test', and the world is failing it, says Kate Guy, DPhil candidate in the Department of Politics and International Relations.
15 April 2020

The mobile phone data that shows coronavirus bringing Britain to a halt (The Telegraph)
Data from mobile phones is being used to understand and predict the impact of the UK’s COVID-19 social distancing measures on population movements nationwide, thanks to a new online tool developed by a team of AI and big data researchers led by Dr Adam Saunders  (Department of Education) and Dr Matthias Qian (Department of Economics).
15 April 2020

How rocketing unemployment damages children's education (TES)
Job insecurity in the face of COVID-19, evidenced by Abi Adams-Prassl, Associate Professor in Economics, will dramatically affect educational outcomes for the families involved.
14 April 2020

COVID-19 has Kenyan refugee camp on edge (The New Humanitarian)
Cory Rodgers, Research Fellow in Forced Migration Studies, explores how the crowded Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya's remote northwest is preparing as best it can amidst rising fears.
14 April 2020

Coronavirus puts class dimension of mobility into sharp focus (The Conversation)
Robin Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Development Studies, argues that the coronavirus pandemic demonstrates the salience of class to the spread, containment and impact of infectious diseases.
14 April 2020

A Global COVID-19 Exit Strategy (Project Syndicate)
The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented threat to both public health and the global economy. Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government, says gvernments must embrace stronger international cooperation to protect the people they represent.
9 April 2020

Coronavirus: why we must tackle hard questions about police power (The Conversation)
Ian Loader, Professor of Criminology in the Faculty of Law, explores why inclusive public debate about what the police do is absolutely vital right now.
8 April 2020

Three graphs that show a global slowdown in COVID-19 deaths (The Conversation)
Danny Dorling, Professor of Geography, uses smoothed data visualisations to explore the deceleration in coronavirus deaths around the world.
7 April 2020

Don’t freak out about quarantine screen time (New York Times)
The evidence directly linking children’s screen time to cognitive and social harm seems, in reality, to be paper thin, says Andrew Przybylski, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute.
6 April 2020

Young and low-paid ‘hit the hardest’ by impact of COVID-19 (The Times)
A study by Abi Adams-Prassl, Associate Professor in Economics, highlights how the COVID-19 crisis is disproportionately affecting younger and lower income workers in the UK, threatening to worsen existing economic inequalities. Dr Adams-Prassl also discussed this issue on Friday 3 April's edition of Newsnight (03:50).

Coronavirus: Europeans introduced devastating novel diseases to the Indigenous Americas – here’s what the survivors learned (The Conversation)
By Felice Wyndham, Research Affiliate at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography.
1 April 2020

South Africa can – and should – top up child support grants to avoid a humanitarian crisis (The Conversation)
Rocco Zizzamoia, DPhil candidate at the Department of International Development, contributes to analysis of COVID-19's impact on vulnerable households in South Africa.
31 March 2020

Coronavirus vaccine: here are the steps it will need to go through during development (The Conversation)
By Samantha Vanderslott, Postdoctoral Researcher in Social Science at the Oxford Vaccine Group and the Oxford Martin School.
30 March 2020

UK national newspaper sales plummet under COVID-19 lockdown (The Guardian) Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, predicts 'huge declines in advertising revenues'. Read Professor Nielsen's full article on What will the coronavirus pandemic mean for the business of news?
27 March 2020

The world before this coronavirus and after cannot be the same (The Conversation)
Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development at the Oxford Martin School, on why now is the time to start building the necessary bridges at home and abroad.
27 March 2020

Don’t panic, plan: Covid-19 family survival ideas
If families are going to survive the Covid-19 lockdown happily, planning is going to be key, according to Professor Ann Buchanan of Oxford’s department of social policy, who has come up with the Four Bs as a plan for a successful family lockdown.
26 March 2020

Coronavirus: how the current number of people dying in the UK compares to the past decade (The Conversation)
Danny Dorling, Professor of Geography, explores factors behind countries' mortality rates and their preparedness to tackle the virus.
24 March 2020

Coronavirus lays bare the trauma of losing your job (The Conversation)
Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Associate Professor of Economics and Strategy at Saïd Business School and Director of the Wellbeing Research Centre, considers how wellbeing research can help inform jobs rescue packages and mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19.
24 March 2020

‘Take me home’: The coronavirus virus and panic mobility
Robin Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Development Studies and Former Director of the International Migration Institute, with a response from Biao Xiang, Professor of Social Anthropology at the Centre of Migration, Policy, and Society: Here we cope, here we observe, here we think and think together: a response to Robin Cohen
20 March 2020

Borders in the Time of Coronavirus: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Upended the Global Mobility Paradigm
Gilda Borriello and Asli Salihoglu, Migration Studies Doctoral students, explore the relative significance of national frontiers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
20 March 2020

How to spot coronavirus fake news – an expert guide (The Conversation)
Samantha Vanderslott, Social Sciences Researcher at the Oxford Vaccine Group and Oxford Martin School, explores how and why we must stem the 'infodemic' of fake news that is threatening to hamper the public health response to the coronavirus pandemic and to add to social disorder and division.
20 March 2020

Why the Coronavirus Hit Italy So Hard
Article highlighting the latest findings by researchers at the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, underlining the important role of demography in the coronavirus pandemic, particularly how the age structure of a population may help explain differences in fatality rates across countries and in how transmission unfolds.
17 March 2020

Will people do as they are told?
Kate Orkin, Senior Research Fellow in Behavioural Economics at the Blavatnik School of Government, explores what behavioural science can tell us about whether people comply with non-compulsory measures.
17 March 2020

The EU’s Digital Response to #COVID19
Ilan Manor, DPhil candidate in the Department of Internationl Development, analyses the EU's digital response to #COVID19, and how social media can serve diplomacy and benefit international collaboration.
17 March 2020

COVID–19 has intensified concerns about misinformation. Here's what our past research says about these issues.
Dr J. Scott Brennen and Professor Rasmus Kleis Nielsen of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism explore how people navigate information (and misinformation) in a crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic, and what role journalism and news can play.
17 March 2020

BBC World Service, The Newsroom 
Economists at Oxford University have found an increase in online searches associated with coronavirus and economic recession as well as an increase in misinformation about the current outbreak online. (02:27)
15 March 2020

BBC Radio 4, Today
Peter Drobac of Oxford’s Saïd Business School comments on the UK’s approach to tackling the spread of coronavirus. (07:09)
13 March 2020

School closures could wipe 3% from UK GDP, ministers warned (The Guardian) 
Simon Wren-Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Economics, argues that there is "no reason why the economy cannot bounce back to full strength once the pandemic is over."
13 March 2020

Coronavirus: why the US is in a mess, and how to fix it (The Conversation)
Dr Peter Drobac, Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, explores what has 'gone wrong' in the US.
13 March 2020

Beyond 100 Days series (BBC News 24)
Kate Orkin, Senior Research Fellow in Behavioural Economics at the Blavatnik School of Government, on changing social norms and managing messaging and language about doing the 'right thing' in society. (50:05)
13 March 2020

Just how bad could a coronvirus recession get? (New York Times)
Professor Ian Goldin from the Oxford Martin School pens an opinion piece on the ways to avert a major global economic meltdown caused by coronavirus.
12 March 2020

From chain reaction to grid reaction
Biao Xiang, Professor of Social Anthropology at the Centre of Migration, Policy, and Society, explores the effects of coronavirus on the Chinese population and economy through the lens of mobility and migration.
12 March 2020

Complete shutdown of UK universities due to Covid-19 'impossible'
Simon Marginson, Professor of Higher Education, comments that the volume of people in universities represents a real challenge to containment.
11 March 2020

Coronavirus confusion (The Guardian)
Dr Peter Drobac, Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, has been interviewed on BBC News and BBC World News, with his interviews quoted in The Guardian. Dr Drobac has suggested that social distancing measures are most effective before a surge in cases.
10 March 2020

Don't let coronavirus tip society into panic, say psychologists (The Guardian)
Zhibo Qiu, doctoral candidate at Saïd Business School, discusses the need for authorities to consider how anxiety influences herd-behaviour in times of crisis. 
6 March 2020

Today programme
Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government, discusses how the novel coronavirus is going to affect the economy and what actions the government should take. (01:51:05) 
4 March 2020

Beyond 100 Days series (BBC News 24) 
Kate Orkin, Senior Research Fellow in Behavioural Economics at the Blavatnik School of Government, talks about public adherence to health advice during events like the current coronavirus outbreak (34:30)
3 March 2020

The impact of coronavirus on the Chinese economy
Interview with Professor Xiaolan Fu, Department of International Development.
3 March 2020

The hunt for a coronavirus cure is showing how science can change for the better (The Conversation)
Xin Xu, ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Education, discusses the importance of open science to tackling the world's challenges.
24 February 2020

The politics of the coronavirus outbreak (
Dr Swee Keng Khor, MPP student at the Blavatnik School of Government, on why outbreaks are common in Asia, and the political choices governments can make to reduce risk of infectious diseases.
24 January 2020

Coronavirus: why hygiene fears strike at the heart of modern China
Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, reflects on China’s hygiene fixation and how coronavirus is exposing a problem with China’s modernising.
9 February 2020


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How Oxford Medical Sciences is fighting coronavirus