General Counsel News recently referenced an interesting article in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled "The 'Legal Epidemiology' of Pandemic Control:"
"The centrality of law as a public health intervention has been undeniable during the Covid-19 pandemic. In just the first half of 2020, more than 1000 laws and orders were issued by federal, state, and local authorities in the United States in an effort to reduce disease transmission... It is past time for a broad recognition in our health system that law is a ubiquitous treatment, one to which hundreds of millions of people are routinely exposed. If that simple but telling analogy is accepted, a more pressing point follows: we should devote much more health research money and talent to the scientific study of the health effects of laws and legal practices (“legal epidemiology”)...
The imperative is to scale up the infrastructure for at least three kinds of research: study of the mechanisms, effects, side effects, and implementation of laws designed to influence health, such as Covid control measures; research on how the legal infrastructure of the U.S. health system — the allocation of powers and duties, as well as limits on authority — influences the effectiveness of the system; and perhaps most important for addressing health equity, studies of how laws that may appear to have no health purposes — such as the tax code, minimum wage, and labor rules — shape the social determinants of health."
The article was authored by Scott Burris, J.D., Evan D. Anderson, J.D., Ph.D., and Alexander C. Wagenaar, M.S.W., Ph.D., affiliated with the Beasley School of Law, Temple University (S.B.), and the Schools of Nursing and Medicine, University of Pennsylvania (E.D.A.) — both in Philadelphia; the University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville (A.C.W.); and the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta.