Image of a busy street, possibly in New York City, with lots of people walking down the street while wearing face masks.

SKAPE Covid Roundtable II: Were non-pharmaceutical interventions evidence-based?

Headshot of Professor Margaret Gill.  Headshot of Dr Lukas Englemann  Headshot of Professor Robert Dingwall

Please join us for the second panel discussion in our roundtable series on the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to welcoming Professor Margaret Gill (University of Aberdeen), Dr Lukas Englemann (University of Edinburgh), and Professor Robert Dingwall (University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University).

Please see below for details and registration.


Our second COVID-19 roundtable addresses the status of evidence in non-pharmaceutical interventions. Alongside shelter-in-place orders, more incremental measures were also introduced in many countries to play a supporting role in minimising transmission of the virus (school closures, social distancing rules, face masks, etcetera). Many measures were novel and untested at the time of their introduction but were assigned precise predictive power in epidemiological modelling. Governments’ felt they could manage risk at a granular level by activating these instruments counter-cyclically when infections were trending upwards. Critics have pointed to the thin and contested evidentiary basis of these instruments. The science and technology studies literature, on the other hand, points to the ubiquity of evidential fragility in ‘policy-relevant science’, as it is tasked with informing policymaking under time-pressured conditions of uncertainty. The second roundtable promotes reflection on the standards to which we should assess evidentiary sufficiency in crisis conditions and models for future evidence-based policymaking.


Professor Robert Dingwall is emeritus professor of sociology at both the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University. His research has ranged widely across topics in medical sociology, the sociology of law and science, and technology studies. He has had a particular interest in pandemics since his involvement in the ethical review of UK pandemic influenza plans in the early 2000s. Subsequently, he supervised a number of PhDs in the area, and has been a member of UK government advisory bodies as well as offering commentary on the Covid pandemic in various blogs, interviews and newspaper columns.

Professor Maggie Gill OBE FRSE has had a 40-year career in the agri-food sector, split almost evenly between conducting research, managing research programme funding and advising research funders, in the UK, New Zealand, European Commission and, for international development, the World Bank and numerous national international development departments. Her original interests were in livestock nutrition (mainly grass-fed sheep and cattle), but over time those broadened to interests on interactions between agriculture more generally, with the environment and again to food systems and, in the last two decades, the interface between science and policy. She was the first Chief Scientific Adviser on Rural Affairs and the Environment in the Scottish Government and currently chairs both the Scottish Science Advisory Council and BBSRC’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Strategy Panel. She was instrumental in creating the Zoonoses from Emerging Livestock Systems research programme (ZELS Programme Impact Report – UKRI) whilst a Senior Research Fellow at DFID, was a member of the Sata, Evidence and Science Working Group of the RSE post-Covid-19 Futures Commission (Home – RSE Post-Covid-19 Futures Commission :RSE Post-Covid-19 Futures Commission ( and a member of the Science legacy of Covid Working Group Working Group of the SSAC (SSAC Report – Building on the Science Legacy of Covid-19 in Scotland.pdf ( She is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Aberdeen, currently living in rural Aberdeenshire.

Dr Lukas Englemann is a historian of medicine and epidemiology in the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh. His research covers histories of epidemics such as HIV/AIDS and the third plague pandemic (1890-1950), the history of epidemiological reasoning as well as the digital transformation of public health in the present. From January 2021 to December 2025, his work on the history of epidemiological reasoning is funded by an ERC Starting Grant.


This event will take place in person at the University of Edinburgh in 40 George Square, Lower Ground Floor room 0.11.

To attend this event, you must please register using our Eventbrite page.

Cover photo credit: Yoav Aziz on Unsplash.


Nov 17 2022


5:00 pm - 6:30 pm


University of Edinburgh, 40 George Square
Lower Ground Floor, Room .11, 40 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JX