Highlights from the COVID CIRCLE Researcher Community’s April webinar: ‘The impact of social sciences research on the pandemic response’

Published on Friday 29th April 2022


On April 27 2022, members of UKCDR’s  COVID CIRCLE Researcher Community (CCRC) came together with UK funders to discuss the impact of social sciences research on the COVID-19 pandemic response. The webinar was chaired by Dr Nina Gobat, lead of the WHO COVID-19 Social Science Technical Working Group.  

The session kicked off with three presentations from COVID CIRCLE researchers with expertise from across the social sciences, each followed by a lively Q&A. Nina then led a roundtable discussion in which researchers, funders and actors from the WHO reflected on the lessons learnt from  developing and implementing rapidly funded COVID-19 research.  


Session 1: projects and presentations 


  • Presenters: Prof Christine McCourt and Dr Maria Paula Prates  

    The Platform for Anthropology and Indigenous Responses to COVID-19 – PARI-c is a tool for broadcasting the development of the research entitled ‘Indigenous Peoples responding to COVID-19 in Brazil: social arrangements in a Global Health emergency’, which was conducted remotely during 2021. The research counts on a network of researchers – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – throughout the Brazilian territory and aims to understand how Indigenous Peoples are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Find out more about PARI-C and Indigenous Peoples’ response to COVID-19 in Brazil on the 
    project website. 


    This project was funded by UKRI MRC and NIHR and is part of the Global Effort on COVID-19 (GECO) Health Research Call.


  • Presenter: Dr Birama Apho Ly


This research project aimed to identify the challenges faced by the public and humanitarian sector actors and the difficulties encountered by internally displaced people in adopting isolation and quarantine measures in Mali. It additionally tried to understand the adjustments made by internally displaced people to overcome these difficulties.  


Find out more about the experiences of internally displaced people in the research team’s newly published journal article in the Journal of Migration and Health. 


Dr Apho Ly’s project was funded by Elrha as part of the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme. 


  • Presenter: Prof Katherine Brickell



The ReFashion study documents the lives of 200 women garment workers in Cambodia throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It is working to improve social protection for just and sustainable global supply chains in the aftermath of the pandemic. 

Find out more about the ReFashion study:  

This project was funded by the UKRI GCRF/Newton AGILE call. 


Session 2: roundtable discussion  


The roundtable discussion brought researchers, funders and WHO actors into conversation about the role of rapid funding schemes in facilitating COVID-19 research. Participants reflected on the myriad of challenges and benefits related to these schemes, touching upon how they were set up at the start of the pandemic and how might they be adapted, not only as new epidemics and pandemics come to the fore, but also how/if they can be utilized in other emergency circumstances. As we approached the end of the session, Nina introduced the ‘key question’ of how we can best position research for impact, sparking an interesting discussion on equitable research partnerships between low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) and high-income countries (HIC) researchers.





A huge thanks to everyone who attended our event, our Chair Dr Nina Gobat, and each of our esteemed presenters. We look forward to seeing you all at our next event. 


Our event Chair and presenters


Dr Nina Gobat  

Nina Gobat holds the position of Technical Officer in WHO’s Community Readiness and Resilience Unit within the World Health Emergencies programme. She is the lead for the WHO Social Science in Outbreak Response thematic area of the COVID-19 Research Roadmap and leads the WHO COVID-19 Social Science Technical Working Group. 

Prof Christine McCourt 

Christine McCourt is Professor of Maternal and Child Health at the School of Health Sciences, City, University of London, where she leads the Centre for Research in Maternal and Child Health. Her key interests are in institutions and service change and reform, equity, and the culture and organisation of maternity care. She has worked for  a number of years on applying anthropological theory and methodology to the study of ‘western’ healthcare. 

Maria Paula Prates


Maria Paula Prates is Research Fellow in Medical Anthropology, at City, University of London, and a Research Fellow in Medical Anthropology of the Anthropocene at University College London. Until April 2022, she was an Adjunct Professor in Medical Anthropology at Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre (UFCSPA). Her key interests are in Indigenous Peoples’ health, the Anthropocene, maternal health, collaborative methodologies, and Indigenous Ontologies. 


Birama Apho Ly 

Birama Apho Ly is a researcher from the University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako and the Director of the Modibo Goita Analysis and Research Center for Sahelo-saharan space (CARESS) at Alioune Blondin Beye Peace Keeping School (EMPABB). His research focuses are on HIV, COVID-19, telemedicine, health information, health during crisis and peace, security, and development. He was previously based at the University of Abomey-Calavy (Ouidah, Benin), Laval University (Quebec, Canada) and the University of Ottawa (Ontario, Canada). 

Prof Katherine Brickell


Katherine Brickell is Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her current UKRI GCRF-funded research studies in Cambodia are focused on the gendered and intergenerational impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both studies focus strongly on financial inclusion, health and nutrition, and the issue of over-indebtedness exacerbated by the pandemic. 




COVID-19 Research Coordination and Learning (COVID CIRCLE) is an initiative from the UK Collaborative for Development Research (UKCDR) and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R). Launched in April 2020, COVID CIRCLE helps align research funders to build a coherent effort for supporting COVID-19 research in, for, and with LMICs. To date, COVID CIRCLE has: 

  • Aligned funders to a set of principles for effective funding in epidemics and pandemics; 
  • Established a world-class tracker for funded COVID-19 research projects; 
  • Produced quarterly Living Mapping Reviews; 
  • Established a COVID CIRCLE Researcher Community; 
  • Published a report capturing key learnings for COVID-19 research funders

In addition to coordinating funding efforts and collating learnings to inform future epidemic and pandemic responses, COVID CIRCLE exists to connect networks of researchers. Mutual learning and interdisciplinarity are integral to the value of the COVID CIRCLE program, and we are pleased that this webinar was an opportunity for colleagues from diverse disciplines to learn more about the vital role that social sciences research plays in the  COVID-19 pandemic response, and how this can complement wider research.  


This is default text for notification bar
This is default text for notification bar