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1.
J Med Ethics ; 2022 Nov 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2137954

ABSTRACT

Equal access to vaccines has been one of the key ethical challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most scholars consider the massive purchase and hoarding of vaccines by high-income countries, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, to be unjust towards the vulnerable living in low-income countries. A recent proposal by Andreas Albertsen of a vaccine tax has been put forward to remedy this problem. Under such a scheme, high-income countries would pay a contribution, conceptualised as a vaccine tax, dedicated to buying vaccines and distributing them to low and middle-income countries. Proceeding from this proposal, we critically assess the feasibility of a vaccine tax and suggest how to conceptualise and implement a vaccine tax in practice. We present our 'VaxTax model' and explore its comparative advantages and disadvantages while considering other possible measures to address the global vaccine access problem, also in view of future pandemics and disease outbreaks.

4.
Hum Vaccin Immunother ; : 2095825, 2022 Jul 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1927249

ABSTRACT

Widely circulating anti-vaccine misinformation online has been constituting a large obstacle for the success of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and for the well-being of people during the pandemic. In this paper we discuss strategies to mitigate negative effects of online anti-vaccine contents on public health and to prevent hesitant individuals from falling prey of the traps set by anti-vaccine disinformation spreaders. Here we discuss the importance of filling information voids and understanding trends and concerns that shape the vaccine debate, and we highlight the relevance of building resilience to vaccine misinformation by strengthening public health and digital literacy.

5.
Dev World Bioeth ; 2022 Mar 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1752527

ABSTRACT

What has the past reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic taught us? We have seen that many low and middle-income countries (LMICs) still lack access to vaccines, and it seems little progress has been made in the last few months and year. This article discusses whether the current strategies, most notably, vaccine donations by the international community and the COVID-19 global access facility COVAX, offer meaningful solutions to tackle the problem. At the centre of our analysis, we compare the concepts of "donations" and "charity" with "vaccine equity" and the "empowerment" of poorer countries. We suggest that the achievement of fair global vaccine production requires that our global approach is supportive of the idea of empowerment. We, therefore, need structural reforms, which would most importantly include capacity building, to positively impact this goal and to take the interests of the global poor seriously.

6.
J Med Internet Res ; 24(2): e34385, 2022 02 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1686333

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The recent introduction of COVID-19 certificates in several countries, including the introduction of the European green pass, has been met with protests and concerns by a fraction of the population. In Italy, the green pass has been used as a nudging measure to incentivize vaccinations because a valid green pass is needed to enter restaurants, bars, museums, or stadiums. As of December 2021, a valid green pass can be obtained by being fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine, recovered from COVID-19, or tested. However, a green pass obtained with a test has a short validity (48 hours for the rapid test, 72 hours for the polymerase chain reaction test) and does not allow access to several indoor public places. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to understand and describe the concerns of individuals opposed to the green pass in Italy, the main arguments of their discussions, and their characterization. METHODS: We collected data from Telegram chats and analyzed the arguments and concerns that were raised by the users by using a mixed methods approach. RESULTS: Most individuals opposing the green pass share antivaccine views, but doubts and concerns about vaccines are generally not among the arguments raised to oppose the green pass. Instead, the discussion revolves around the legal aspects and the definition of personal freedom. We explain the differences and similarities between antivaccine and anti-green pass discourses, and we discuss the ethical ramifications of our research, focusing on the use of Telegram chats as a social listening tool for public health. CONCLUSIONS: A large portion of individuals opposed to the green pass share antivaccine views. We suggest public health and political institutions to provide a legal explanation and a context for the use of the green pass, as well as to continue focusing on vaccine communication to inform vaccine-hesitant individuals. Further work is needed to define a consensual ethical framework for social listening for public health.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Social Media , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination
7.
Int J Public Health ; 66: 1604236, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1626621

ABSTRACT

Objectives: We face the impossibility of having enough COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in the near future. This study aims to contribute to the debate on equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, tackling key ethical discussions and policy challenges regarding early phases of COVAX, the global cooperation mechanism for supporting fair vaccine allocation. Methods: We conducted in-depth interviews with twelve experts and a literature research on academic articles, media sources and public statements. We built a data analysis matrix and conducted a thematic analysis. Results: Our findings show, first, that interviewed experts who hold different views on vaccine allocation, including moderate nationalist perspectives, agree on joining a global cooperation mechanism. Second, incentives to join COVAX vary greatly among countries. Third, specific barriers to COVAX emerged in the early implementation phase. And fourth, countries might be trapped in a zero-sum game regarding the global vaccine supply. Conclusion: We present findings that enrich analyses of early phases of COVAX (April 2020-21), we introduce three ethical discussions that provide a common ground for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, and we highlight policy challenges.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Vaccines , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Policy , SARS-CoV-2
8.
Bull World Health Organ ; 99(12): 892-900, 2021 Dec 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1581462

ABSTRACT

Donor human milk is recommended by the World Health Organization both for its advantageous nutritional and biological properties when mother's own milk is not available and for its recognized support for lactation and breastfeeding when used appropriately. An increasing number of human milk banks are being established around the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries, to facilitate the collection, processing and distribution of donor human milk. In contrast to other medical products of human origin, however, there are no minimum quality, safety and ethical standards for donor human milk and no coordinating global body to inform national policies. We present the key issues impeding progress in human milk banking, including the lack of clear definitions or registries of products; issues around regulation, quality and safety; and ethical concerns about commercialization and potential exploitation of women. Recognizing that progress in human milk banking is limited by a lack of comparable evidence, we recommend further research in this field to fill the knowledge gaps and provide evidence-based guidance. We also highlight the need for optimal support for mothers to provide their own breastmilk and establish breastfeeding as soon as and wherever possible after birth.


Lorsque la mère est dans l'impossibilité d'allaiter, l'Organisation mondiale de la Santé recommande d'opter pour le lait humain provenant de donneuses, tant pour ses propriétés nutritionnelles et biologiques que pour la contribution avérée qu'il apporte à la lactation et à l'allaitement quand il est utilisé à bon escient. Un nombre croissant de banques de lait humain s'établissent dans le monde entier, en particulier dans les pays à faible et moyen revenu, afin de faciliter la collecte, le traitement et la distribution de lait humain provenant de donneuses. Cependant, contrairement à d'autres produits médicaux d'origine humaine, il n'existe aucune norme minimale de qualité, de sécurité et d'éthique en la matière, et aucun organe de coordination global n'a été créé pour guider les politiques nationales. Dans le présent document, nous évoquons les principaux obstacles à la progression des banques de lait humain, notamment l'absence de définition claire ou de registre de produits; les problèmes relatifs à la réglementation, la qualité et la sécurité; ainsi que les questions éthiques entourant la commercialisation et l'exploitation potentielle des femmes. Jugeant cette progression limitée par le manque de données comparables, nous encourageons à mener d'autres recherches dans ce domaine pour combler les lacunes et fournir des orientations fondées sur des preuves. Nous soulignons également la nécessité d'offrir un soutien optimal aux mères afin qu'elles puissent produire leur propre lait et allaiter autant que possible immédiatement après la naissance.


La Organización Mundial de la Salud recomienda la leche humana donada tanto por sus ventajosas propiedades nutricionales y biológicas cuando no se dispone de la propia leche materna como por su reconocido apoyo a la lactancia y al amamantamiento cuando se utiliza de manera adecuada. Cada vez se crean más bancos de leche humana en todo el mundo, sobre todo en los países de ingresos bajos y medios, para facilitar la recogida, el procesamiento y la distribución de leche humana donada. Sin embargo, a diferencia de lo que ocurre con otros productos médicos de origen humano, no existen estándares mínimos de calidad, seguridad y ética para la leche humana donada ni un organismo mundial de coordinación que sirva de base a las políticas nacionales. En este documento se exponen los principales problemas que impiden el progreso de los bancos de leche humana, como la falta de definiciones claras o de registros de productos; los problemas relacionados con la regulación, la calidad y la seguridad; y las preocupaciones éticas sobre la comercialización y la posible explotación de las mujeres. Dado que el progreso de los bancos de leche humana se ve limitado por la falta de evidencias comparables, se recomienda seguir investigando en este campo para compensar los vacíos de conocimiento y proporcionar una guía asistencial. Asimismo, se destaca la necesidad de apoyar al máximo a las madres para que se provean de su propia leche materna y establezcan la lactancia materna tan pronto y siempre que sea posible después del nacimiento.


Subject(s)
Milk Banks , Milk, Human , Breast Feeding , Female , Humans , Mothers , Tissue Donors
9.
JMIR Res Protoc ; 10(11): e33653, 2021 Nov 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1511951

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Since the end of 2019, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on people around the globe. As governments institute more restrictive measures, public adherence could decrease and discontent may grow. Providing high-quality information and countering fake news are important. However, we also need feedback loops so that government officials can refine preventive measures and communication strategies. Policy makers need information-preferably based on real-time data-on people's cognitive, emotional, and behavioral reactions to public health messages and restrictive measures. PubliCo aims to foster effective and tailored risk and crisis communication as well as provide an assessment of the risks and benefits of prevention and control measures, since their effectiveness depends on public trust and cooperation. OBJECTIVE: Our project aims to develop a tool that helps tackle the COVID-19 infodemic, with a focus on enabling a nuanced and in-depth understanding of public perception. The project adopts a transdisciplinary multistakeholder approach, including participatory citizen science. METHODS: We aim to combine a literature and media review and analysis as well as empirical research using mixed methods, including an online survey and diary-based research, both of which are ongoing and continuously updated. Building on real-time data and continuous data collection, our research results will be highly adaptable to the evolving situation. RESULTS: As of September 2021, two-thirds of the proposed tool is operational. The current development cycles are focusing on analytics, user experience, and interface refinement. We have collected a total of 473 responses through PubliCo Survey and 22 diaries through PubliCo Diaries. CONCLUSIONS: Pilot data show that PubliCo is a promising and efficient concept for bidirectional risk and crisis communication in the context of public health crises. Further data are needed to assess its function at a larger scale or in the context of an issue other than COVID-19. INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): DERR1-10.2196/33653.

10.
Am J Bioeth ; 21(11): 71-74, 2021 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1506980
11.
Front Digit Health ; 3: 753747, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1497066

ABSTRACT

Advance directives allow people to declare their treatment preferences for a potential future state of incompetency. Covid-19, with its high numbers of quickly deteriorating patients requiring intensive care, has acutely demonstrated how helpful it would be for clinicians to have reliable, readily available, up-to-date information at hand to be able to act in accordance with what the individual patient would have wanted. Yet for the past few decades advance directives have fallen short of their potential, for various reasons. At worst, advance directives are perceived as unwieldy legal documents that put excessive demands on patients without providing useful guidance for better care. Recent efforts such as advance care planning have tried to remedy some of these shortcomings but have so far met with limited success. We suggest a new concept-the Advance Care Compass-that harnesses the potential of digitalization in healthcare to overcome many of difficulties encountered so far.

12.
Wirtschaftsdienst ; 101(8): 586-590, 2021.
Article in German | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1371364
13.
BMJ Glob Health ; 6(7)2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1322803

ABSTRACT

The current global systemic crisis reveals how globalised societies are unprepared to face a pandemic. Beyond the dramatic loss of human life, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered widespread disturbances in health, social, economic, environmental and governance systems in many countries across the world. Resilience describes the capacities of natural and human systems to prevent, react to and recover from shocks. Societal resilience to the current COVID-19 pandemic relates to the ability of societies in maintaining their core functions while minimising the impact of the pandemic and other societal effects. Drawing on the emerging evidence about resilience in health, social, economic, environmental and governance systems, this paper delineates a multisystemic understanding of societal resilience to COVID-19. Such an understanding provides the foundation for an integrated approach to build societal resilience to current and future pandemics.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2
14.
Br Med Bull ; 138(1): 5-15, 2021 06 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1246698

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has placed intensive care units (ICU) triage at the center of bioethical discussions. National and international triage guidelines emerged from professional and governmental bodies and have led to controversial discussions about which criteria-e.g. medical prognosis, age, life-expectancy or quality of life-are ethically acceptable. The paper presents the main points of agreement and disagreement in triage protocols and reviews the ethical debate surrounding them. SOURCES OF DATA: Published articles, news articles, book chapters, ICU triage guidelines set out by professional societies and health authorities. AREAS OF AGREEMENT: Points of agreement in the guidelines that are widely supported by ethical arguments are (i) to avoid using a first come, first served policy or quality-adjusted life-years and (ii) to rely on medical prognosis, maximizing lives saved, justice as fairness and non-discrimination. AREAS OF CONTROVERSY: Points of disagreement in existing guidelines and the ethics literature more broadly regard the use of exclusion criteria, the role of life expectancy, the prioritization of healthcare workers and the reassessment of triage decisions. GROWING POINTS: Improve outcome predictions, possibly aided by Artificial intelligence (AI); develop participatory approaches to drafting, assessing and revising triaging protocols; learn from experiences with implementation of guidelines with a view to continuously improve decision-making. AREAS TIMELY FOR DEVELOPING RESEARCH: Examine the universality vs. context-dependence of triaging principles and criteria; empirically test the appropriateness of triaging guidelines, including impact on vulnerable groups and risk of discrimination; study the potential and challenges of AI for outcome and preference prediction and decision-support.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/therapy , Critical Care/ethics , Triage/ethics , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Clinical Protocols , Humans
15.
EMBO Rep ; 22(3): e52319, 2021 03 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1146363

ABSTRACT

Ethical challenges should be addressed before gene editing is made available to improve the immune response against emerging viruses.


Subject(s)
Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats , Pandemics , CRISPR-Cas Systems/genetics , Gene Editing , Humans , Immune System
17.
J Med Ethics ; 48(3): 175-183, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1124722

ABSTRACT

Artificial intelligence (AI) systems are increasingly being used in healthcare, thanks to the high level of performance that these systems have proven to deliver. So far, clinical applications have focused on diagnosis and on prediction of outcomes. It is less clear in what way AI can or should support complex clinical decisions that crucially depend on patient preferences. In this paper, we focus on the ethical questions arising from the design, development and deployment of AI systems to support decision-making around cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the determination of a patient's Do Not Attempt to Resuscitate status (also known as code status). The COVID-19 pandemic has made us keenly aware of the difficulties physicians encounter when they have to act quickly in stressful situations without knowing what their patient would have wanted. We discuss the results of an interview study conducted with healthcare professionals in a university hospital aimed at understanding the status quo of resuscitation decision processes while exploring a potential role for AI systems in decision-making around code status. Our data suggest that (1) current practices are fraught with challenges such as insufficient knowledge regarding patient preferences, time pressure and personal bias guiding care considerations and (2) there is considerable openness among clinicians to consider the use of AI-based decision support. We suggest a model for how AI can contribute to improve decision-making around resuscitation and propose a set of ethically relevant preconditions-conceptual, methodological and procedural-that need to be considered in further development and implementation efforts.


Subject(s)
Artificial Intelligence , COVID-19 , Humans , Pandemics , Resuscitation Orders , SARS-CoV-2
18.
PLoS One ; 16(3): e0247642, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1115302

ABSTRACT

Vaccinations are without doubt one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine, and there is hope that they can constitute a solution to halt the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, the anti-vaccination movement is currently on the rise, spreading online misinformation about vaccine safety and causing a worrying reduction in vaccination rates worldwide. In this historical time, it is imperative to understand the reasons of vaccine hesitancy, and to find effective strategies to dismantle the rhetoric of anti-vaccination supporters. For this reason, we analyzed the behavior of anti-vaccination supporters on the platform Twitter. Here we identify that anti-vaccination supporters, in comparison with pro-vaccination supporters, share conspiracy theories and make use of emotional language. We demonstrate that anti-vaccination supporters are more engaged in discussions on Twitter and share their contents from a pull of strong influencers. We show that the movement's success relies on a strong sense of community, based on the contents produced by a small fraction of profiles, with the community at large serving as a sounding board for anti-vaccination discourse to circulate online. Our data demonstrate that Donald Trump, before his profile was suspended, was the main driver of vaccine misinformation on Twitter. Based on these results, we welcome policies that aim at halting the circulation of false information about vaccines by targeting the anti-vaccination community on Twitter. Based on our data, we also propose solutions to improve the communication strategy of health organizations and build a community of engaged influencers that support the dissemination of scientific insights, including issues related to vaccines and their safety.


Subject(s)
Anti-Vaccination Movement/psychology , Social Media/trends , Vaccination/psychology , Anti-Vaccination Movement/statistics & numerical data , Anti-Vaccination Movement/trends , Behavior Rating Scale , COVID-19/psychology , Communication , Humans , Public Health , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Vaccines/immunology
19.
Swiss Med Wkly ; 150: w20415, 2020 11 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1023246
20.
Bioethics ; 34(9): 948-959, 2020 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-796074

ABSTRACT

On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization classified COVID-19, caused by Sars-CoV-2, as a pandemic. Although not much was known about the new virus, the first outbreaks in China and Italy showed that potentially a large number of people worldwide could fall critically ill in a short period of time. A shortage of ventilators and intensive care resources was expected in many countries, leading to concerns about restrictions of medical care and preventable deaths. In order to be prepared for this challenging situation, national triage guidance has been developed or adapted from former influenza pandemic guidelines in an increasing number of countries over the past few months. In this article, we provide a comparative analysis of triage recommendations from selected national and international professional societies, including Australia/New Zealand, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Pakistan, South Africa, Switzerland, the United States, and the International Society of Critical Care Medicine. We describe areas of consensus, including the importance of prognosis, patient will, transparency of the decision-making process, and psychosocial support for staff, as well as the role of justice and benefit maximization as core principles. We then probe areas of disagreement, such as the role of survival versus outcome, long-term versus short-term prognosis, the use of age and comorbidities as triage criteria, priority groups and potential tiebreakers such as 'lottery' or 'first come, first served'. Having explored a number of tensions in current guidance, we conclude with a suggestion for framework conditions that are clear, consistent and implementable. This analysis is intended to advance the ongoing debate regarding the fair allocation of limited resources and may be relevant for future policy-making.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/therapy , Decision Making/ethics , Health Care Rationing/ethics , Pandemics/ethics , Practice Guidelines as Topic , Social Justice , Triage/ethics , Asia , Australasia , Canada , Critical Care , Critical Illness , Ethical Analysis , Europe , Health Resources , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Societies, Medical , South Africa
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