Responding to COVID-19: New early-view articles in the Hastings Center report


Vaccine rationing and social justice, ethical challenges for nurses, and more

Vaccine Rationing and the Urgency of Social Justice in the Covid-19 Response

Harald Schmidt

While it is unclear when a vaccine will be available for Covid-19, what is clear is that when one has been found, demand will outstrip supply for a period of time and rationing will become necessary. Ethical, epidemiological, and economic reasons demand that rationing approaches give priority to groups that have been structurally and historically disadvantaged, even if this means that overall life years gained may be lower, the author argues. “We must seize the opportunity to allocate vaccines in a way that is both just in the here and now and recognizes the enormous symbolic importance for the collective memory of structurally and historically marginalized groups that comes with being placed first, or last, in line,” writes Schmidt, an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. .

Covid-19: Ethical Challenges for Nurses

Georgina Morley, Christine Grady, Joan McCarthy, and Connie. M. Ulrich

The Covid?19 pandemic has highlighted many of the difficult ethical issues that health care professionals confront in caring for patients and families. This essay focuses on the implications for nurses, who are the largest global health care workforce but whose perspectives are not always fully considered. The authors discuss three overarching ethical issues that create a myriad of concerns and will likely affect nurses globally in unique ways: the safety of nurses, patients, colleagues, and families; the allocation of scarce resources; and the changing nature of nurses’ relationships with patients and families. The authors urge policy?makers to ensure that nurses’ voices and perspectives are integrated into both local and global decision?making so as to minimize the structural injustices many nurses have faced to date. The authors also urge nurses to seek sources of support throughout this pandemic. Morley is a nurse ethicist at the Cleveland Clinic. Grady is a nurse-bioethicist and chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. McCarthy is a senior lecturer in health care ethics in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University College Cork, in Ireland. Ulrich is a professor of bioethics and nursing at the University of Pennsylvania.


Other early-view pieces:

Should Institutes Disclose the Names of Employees with Covid-19?

Health Inequalities

Experiencing Community in a Covid Surge

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Susan Gilbert

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The Hastings Center

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