Ethical rationing: Hydroxychloroquine, COVID-19 and the inequality of diseases

By Yves Saint James Aquino and Nicolo Cabrera The controversy surrounding the off-label use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for COVID-19 highlights the inherent inequality of disease conditions. In this brief ethics explainer, we argue that we need to make explicit the clinical and non-clinical factors that determine the inequality of diseases. The varying appraisals of disease […]

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Responding to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: Experiences of an ad hoc public health ethics consultation

By Verina Wild, Alena Buyx, Samia Hurst, Christian Munthe, Annette Rid, Daniel Strech, Alison Thompson. Clinical ethics consultations are a well established method to deal with ethically problematic situations in clinical care, even in emergency situations. But an emergency public health ethics consultation? This was unusual for most of us. Public health authorities in many […]

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Health Care Professionals Are Under No Ethical Obligation to Treat COVID-19 Patients

By Udo Schuklenk. Even a cursory look at the news tells us that many doctors and nurses are reluctant to provide care to COVID-19 patients. Personal protective equipment (PPE) levels in Australia’s state of Queensland are very low, writes the state’s Clinical Senate Chair Alex Markwell. Bulgaria has seen a wave of doctors resigning, Zimbabwean […]

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Your family or your job? Balancing the duty to treat with the duty to family in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

By Doug McConnell At an aged-care home in Australia, most of the social care workers abstained from work after a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility. They cited concern for their family members, some of whom were immunocompromised. Physicians and nurses in the UK have threatened to quit because a lack of adequate personal protective equipment […]

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Personal Protective Equipment for front-line health workers: an ethical imperative

By Elizabeth Fenton Covid-19 poses risks to health care workers that exceed those posed to members of the public. Repeated exposure to infected patients increases their risk of infection, and might also make their symptoms more severe if they become infected. Although reported numbers vary, in Italy approximately 9% of COVID-19 cases are health workers, […]

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Scarce resources allocation in the COVID-19 outbreak: Extraordinary framework, ordinary criteria

By Chiara Mannelli. After initially emerging in China, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has advanced rapidly. The World Health Organization has declared it a pandemic, with Europe becoming its new epicenter. Demand for critical care currently exceeds its supply, raising significant ethical concerns, among which is the allocation of scarce resources. Professionals are considering the prioritization […]

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The Slow Dragon and the Dim Sloth: What can the world learn from coronavirus responses in Italy and the UK?

By Marcello Ienca and David Shaw. Italy and the UK arguably represent the two extremes of initial policy responses to the ongoing Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. In the following we provide an overview of these response strategies and discuss what the rest of the world can learn from these two countries. Chaotically draconian: The Italian […]

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Don’t let the ethics of despair infect the intensive care unit

By David Shaw, Dan Harvey and Dale Gardiner. Coronavirus is a killer, and most countries have implemented measures to reduce this mortality. On the one hand, public health measures aim to limit the spread of the disease, and hence limit the number of people requiring hospitalisation; on the other, healthcare professionals working in intensive care […]

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COVID-19 and the moral community: A nursing ethics perspective

By Georgina Morley. Effective triage and allocation of resources based on clinically and ethically supportable criteria is undoubtedly the correct way to respond to COVID-19 as we aim to mitigate the effects and likely unprecedented impact this novel virus will have on healthcare systems across the globe. However, as some commentators have overlooked, the burden […]

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