Hurlbut moderates session on the “lab leak” hypothesis at STS Summer School

J. Benjamin Hurlbut moderated a panel that discussed the hypothesis that the SARS-CoV-2 virus escaped from a Wuhan biology laboratory. The session featured a mix of STS scholars, science writers, and participants in the controversy. Key issues included whether debate about the lab leak hypothesis had been prematurely brought to closure and whether it merited being reopened.

Eisenberger, Boucz, and colleagues present on “COVID-19 and the Rule of Law in New Zealand and Austria” at ICONS Mundo Conference

At the International Society for Public Law, Austria team members Iris Eisenberger and Thomas Boucz presented their research on Austria’s and New Zealand’s pandemic responses and judicial review systems. They examined how the lockdowns were communicated and challenged in the courts. The authors discussed what having judicial review of government communications means for upholding the rule of law in the face of crisis. More information here.

Olofsson reviews Legal Rules in a Crisis (2020) in Sociologisk Forskning

Tobias Oloffson of the Sweden team published a review of Legal Rules in a Crisis by Johan Hirschfeldt and Olof Petersson. The book asks what kind of democratic decision-making a crisis requires and how it differs from “peace-time” political processes. Olofsson’s review emphasized that pandemics necessitate overriding the slow decision-making processes in favor of swift crisis management.

Rao publishes article about Covid response decentralization in Bangalore

Bhargavi Rao of the India team published a critique of India’s centralized approach to responding to Covid-19. Her commentary commended the state government of Karnataka for finally realizing that a pandemic cannot be fought top down and for proposing a decentralised approach at the ward level in Bengaluru.

Saldanha and Rao condemn Bangalore’s plan to bury pandemic dead in landfill

In a press release, Leo Saldanha and Bhargavi Rao, both members of the India team and founders of Environment Support Group (ESG), called on officials to reconsider its plan to use a landfill to cremate and bury the bodies of Covid-19 victims. Saldanha and Rao challenged the government’s claim that two disaster management acts allow it to use the landfill as a crematorium, and demanded a more suitable and dignified solution.  

Brazilian team publishes an analysis of vaccine politics in Brazil

The piece, which addresses disputes over the authorization and rollout of vaccines, appeared in Backchannels, the Society for Social Studies of Science blog. The post links anti-vaccine sentiment to political rupture between João Doria, São Paulo’s governor, and President Jair Bolsonaro.   

University of São Paulo Journal explores Brazilian and US pandemic response

The USP Journal described the CompCoRe Interim Report in an article titled “Tensões políticas levaram Brasil a fracassar no combate à covid-19, aponta relatório”(“Political tensions have led Brazil to fail to combat covid-19, report says,”). The article discussed the similarities between the Brazilian and US responses to the pandemic, quoting Marko Monteiro (Brazil team) on how political polarization has been detrimental to the effective containment of the virus. Full article in Portuguese here and English translation here.

Eisenberger gives talk on legal aspects of statistical modeling

Iris Eisenberger spoke about “Human Rights Requirements and Statistical Modelling” as part of a conference on “Digital Governance in the Times of Covid-19” organized by Bar Ilan University. She presented findings from her study on legal issues related to modeling.
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