The Right to Health in Times of Pandemic: What Can We Learn from the UK's Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak?
Health Hum Rights
The UK's response to COVID-19 has been widely criticized by scientists and the public. According to EuroMOMO, a European mortality monitoring initiative, the excess mortality that may be attributable to COVID-19 in England is one of the highest in Europe, second only to Spain. While critiqued from a public health perspective, much less attention is given to the implications of the pandemic outbreak for the right to health as defined under international human rights law and ratified by member states. Using the UK as a case study, we examine critically the extent to which the government's response to COVID-19 complied with the legal framework of the right to health. We review further key states' obligations on the right to health and assess its suitability in times of pandemic. Finally, we offer some recommendations for an update of the right to health. This paper adds to the body of literature on the right to health and human rights based-approaches to health.