Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

Monitoring the Safety of Medicines and Vaccines in Times of Pandemic: Practical, Conceptual, and Ethical Challenges in Pharmacovigilance [Special Issue]

Topics: Epidemiology, Epistemology, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of science
Keywords: Big Data, COVID-19, Pharmacovigilance, Resilience


In this paper, we analyse some of the challenges that pharmacovigilance, the science of detecting and assessing possible adverse reactions from medical interventions, is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we consider the issue of increased uncertainty of the evidence and the issue of dealing with an unprecedented amount of data. After presenting the technical advances implemented in response to these two challenges, we offer some conceptual reflections around such practical changes. We argue that the COVID-19 emergency represents a chance to push forward critical thinking in the field of pharmacovigilance, and that contributions from epistemology, ethics and philosophy of science are necessary to increase resilience in the face of this and future health emergencies.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic emerged in Wuhan, China, in 2019 and rapidly spread globally during 2020. COVID-19 is not only a crisis for public health and healthcare. It is also a challenge for the established structures of knowledge production, use and communication (Meng 2020). The COVID-19 crisis is forcing us to improve the way we make science-based decisions in the face of uncertainty. This is necessary in order to increase…


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