COVID-19 is compromising all aspects of society, with devastating impacts on health, political, social, economic and educational spheres. A premium is being placed on scientific research as the source of possible solutions, with a situational imperative to carry out investigations at an accelerated rate. There is a major challenge not to neglect ethical standards, in a context where doing so may mean the difference between life and death. In this paper we offer a rubric for considering the ethical challenges in COVID-19 related research, in the form of an ethics toolkit for global research developed at the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with more than 200 global researchers from around the world (Reid et al., 2019). This toolkit provides a framework to support confrontation of ethical conflicts through the integrated and iterative analysis of Place, People, Principles and Precedents, throughout the research journey. Two case analyses are offered to exemplify the utility of the toolkit as a flexible and dynamic tool to promote ethical research in the context of COVID-19.