COVID-19 / 2021.07.09

Partners in Action: SEBCOV – A project by Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit

As part of the Partners In Action series, Sonar-Global is interviewing Phaik Yeong Cheah from Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit managing the SEBCOV project.

What is the project?

The project is called SEBCOV or “Social, ethical and behavioral aspects of COVID-19″: Thailand, Malaysia, United Kingdom (UK), Italy and Slovenia”. In the absence of widely available treatments for COVID-19, governments have relied primarily on non-pharmaceutical interventions to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic. It is essential that authorities and policymakers consider how these restrictions impact different social groups and particularly vulnerable groups.

What are the methods used?

The project has two parts: a survey and a qualitative study.

Overall, 5,058 respondents from Thailand, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Slovenia completed the self-administered survey between May and June 2020. Among the five countries, Thai respondents appeared to have been most, and Slovenian respondents were least affected economically. Overall, lower education levels, larger households, having children under 18 in the household, being 65 years or older, and having flexible/no income were associated with worse economic impact. Regarding social impact, respondents expressed the most concern about their social life, physical health, and mental health and wellbeing.

Between May and August 2020, a total of 86 in-depth interviews were conducted with members of the public within these countries (Slovenia did not take part). Most interviewees felt that the impact of COVID-19 measures on their lives was predominantly negative, including (i) separation from family, friends, and communities and grief over missed milestones, (ii) work-related challenges and income loss, and (iii) poor mental health and wellbeing. However, many participants also described inadvertent positive experiences resulting from COVID-19 measures, including having more time at home to focus on the family and oneself, experiencing a sense of greater connectedness and shared humanity.

What are the challenges you are facing?

Online data collection meant that people who were considered most vulnerable such as those who were illiterate, those who did not have internet access, older people, and migrant workers could not take part.

What is the added value that the project results will bring?

Our findings imply that there are significant differences in how people from different social groups and different countries experienced COVID-19 and related public health measures, and any support initiatives should take this into account.

Publications related to SEBCOV

Pan-ngum W, Poomchaichote T, Cuman G, Cheah PK, Waithira N…Cheah PK, Osterrieder A, Schneiders M, Mackworth-Young C, Cheah PY. Social, ethical and behavioral aspects of COVID-19. Wellcome Open Res 2020; 5:90.

Pan-ngum W, Poomchaichote T, Peerawaranun P, Kulpijit N, Osterrieder A…Chanviriyavuth R, Asarath S, Ruangkajorn S, Kannika N, Cheah PY. Perspectives on public health interventions in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Thailand. Wellcome Open Res 2020, 5:245. 

Osterrieder A, Cuman G, Pan-Ngum W, Cheah PK, Cheah PK, …Mackworth-Young CRS, Ongkili D, Chaviriyavuth R, Mukaka M, Cheah PY. Economic and social impacts of COVID-19 and public health measures: results from an anonymous online survey in Thailand, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Italy and Slovenia.   doi: 

Shneiders ML, Naemiratch B, Poomchaichote T, Ruangkajorn S…Cheah PK, Ongkili D, Pan-ngum W, Mackworth-Young CRS, Cheah PY. The impact of COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical interventions on the lived experiences of people living in Thailand, Malaysia, Italy and the United Kingdom: a cross-country qualitative study. medRxiv 2021.


About the Author

Phaik Yeong

Coordinator of the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MOROU)

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