Scientists and doctors were presented with a great challenge with the emergence of the novel coronavirus. As the virus continued to spread, the issue was no longer isolated to members of the scientific and healthcare communities. Battling the COVID-19 virus presented many ethical questions that Dr. Anne Jeffrey’s Bioethics class at Baylor University set out to answer.
These questions include:
- What principle(s) should be used to allocate scarce resources such as tests, hospital beds, and medications?
- What forms of paternalistic government interference are appropriate and justified to slow the spread of the disease, treat effectively, mitigate costs in the market? Is a special branch of government uniquely authorized to generate these demands (e.g. CDC, executive branch, congress)?
- Should certain matters be left to the discretion of local communities and their governing bodies? If so, what matters and which governing bodies?
- What rights to privacy regarding health information, if any, do those who have contracted coronavirus maintain? Under what conditions can these rights be overridden?
- What are the moral responsibilities of various agents involved in the response– medical practitioners, healthcare administrators, policymakers, government officials, journalists, private citizens– and how will they be held accountable for these responsibilities?
The class created committees to establish and agree upon guidelines that they believe are the most ethical approaches to each of these questions. These guidelines can be found on each of the subpages on this website.