Social Science research supports UK Government’s COVID-19 response

  • Date

    Tue 12 Oct 21

Essex research has been used to underpin Government thinking on its COVID-19 response and influenced policy in the fields of well-being of children, education, inequalities in vaccine uptake and impact of the pandemic on minority ethnic communities.

Research by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) into the impact of school closures on children’s wellbeing helped to inform the advice given by the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, as the Government considered the introduction of vaccines for 12 to15-year-olds.

The Nuffield Foundation-funded research, led by Dr Birgitta Rabe, from ISER, with Dr Laura Fumagalli from ISER, Dr Claire Crawford from the University of Birmingham and Dr Jo Blanden at the University of Surrey, used data from Understanding Society COVID-19 surveys to understand how children and their parents were affected by the school closures during the first lockdown in March 2020.

A working paper by Professor Ayse Guveli, from Department of Sociology who is also affiliated to ISER, was cited in a series of OFQUAL reports about Learning during the pandemic. The research concerned the context for assessments of childrens’ learning in summer 2021 and the quantification of lost time for students.

This continues to build on research referenced over the past year in key reports on the COVID-19 response. This includes Dr Birgitta Rabe’s work on learning loss during the pandemic and access to IT equipment for disadvantaged pupils which was cited by the UK Parliament Public Accounts Committee in May.

Research by Professor Michaela Benzeval, Director of Understanding Society was cited in SAGE Factors influencing COVID-19 vaccine uptake among minority ethnic groups, in December 2020.

Dr Alita Nandi, Senior Research Fellow at ISER, was also cited in the Government’s SAGE document on the drivers of the higher COVID-19 incidence, morbidity and mortality among minority ethnic groups in September 2020.

Professor John Preston, Social Sciences Faculty Dean (Research) said: “As the world is asking questions on COVID-19, Essex is finding the answers. Our academics have placed themselves at the heart of the global fight to identify and tackle the pandemic’s short and long-term effects.”