Pandemic Bioethics
  • Publication Date: June 30, 2021
  • ISBN: 9781554815210 / 1554815215
  • 170 pages; 6" x 9"

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Pandemic Bioethics

  • Publication Date: June 30, 2021
  • ISBN: 9781554815210 / 1554815215
  • 170 pages; 6" x 9"

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every human being on the planet and forced us all to reflect on the bioethical issues it raises. In this timely book, Gregory Pence examines a number of relevant issues, including the fair allocation of scarce medical resources, immunity passports, tradeoffs between protecting senior citizens and allowing children to flourish, discrimination against minorities and the disabled, and the myriad issues raised by vaccines.


Chapter 1: Historical Epidemics

  • The Spanish Flu of 1918
  • Cholera
  • Plague
  • Smallpox
  • Yellow Fever
  • Malaria

Chapter 2: Modern Viral Pandemics

  • Polio
  • Asian Flu of 1957 and Hong Kong Flu of 1968
  • Ebola
  • Swine Flu of 1976
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • SARS1
  • Swine Flu of 2009
  • Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)
  • Zika
  • Other Viral Diseases Affecting Humans: Herpes, Hepatitis C, HPV, etc.

Chapter 3: The Medical Nature of SARS2

  • Disputed Origins of SARS2
  • The Clinical Course of COVID-19
  • Transmission & Immunity

Chapter 4: Policies for Containment

  • Quarantine as a Preventive Allocation Strategy
  • Four Models of Fighting Pandemics
  • Successes and Failures Around the World
  • Intermittent Lockdowns, Denial and the American Confusion

Chapter 5: Who Should Live When Not All Can?

  • Ethical Theories as Guides
  • Historical Background: The God Committee and the Social Worth
  • A Relevant Digression: “Sickest First” Allocation and UNOS
  • Enter Bioethicists
  • Saints and Sacrifice
  • Covid, Cognitively Challenged Patients, and Rights of Disabled Persons
  • Unexpected Allocation Issues

Chapter 6: Developing Vaccines

  • A Brief History of Vaccines
  • Kinds of Vaccines
  • Ethical Issues in Developing Vaccines
  • Speeding Up Development of Experimental Vaccines
  • Other Problems with Vaccine Trials
  • Politics and Vaccines for Covid

Chapter 7: Allocating Vaccines

  • Success with Quick Production of Vaccines
  • The CDC and the States
  • Ability to Pay and Access to Vaccines
  • Allocation Priorities
  • Vaccination Complexities
  • Mandatory Vaccinations
  • Global Vaccine Distribution
  • Possible Bad Scenarios

Chapter 8: Acts and Omissions, the Trolley Problem, and Prisoner’s Dilemmas

  • Acts versus Omissions
  • The Trolley Problem
  • The Trolley Problem, Variolation and the Dengvaxia Vaccine
  • The Trolley Problem and Covid Lockdowns
  • Prisoners’ Dilemmas and Vaccination Uptake

Chapter 9: Liberty and Privacy

  • Philosophical Positions on Liberty
  • Problems of Contact Tracing
  • Controlling Pandemics versus Protecting Privacy
  • Privacy of Genetic Information Collected During Testing in Pandemics

Chapter 10: COVID Certificates

  • Defining Key Terms
  • What is the Purpose of Covid Certificates?
  • Benefits of Covid Certificates
  • Problems with Covid Certificates

Chapter 11: Structural Inequalities & Vulnerable Groups

  • Who Is Most Vulnerable in a Pandemic?
  • Differences in Efforts to Control Infection in Different Vulnerable Groups

Chapter 12: Leadership During Pandemics

  • Leadership and the Virtue of Trust
  • WHO’s Leaders Made Mistakes
  • Donald Trump and American Leadership
  • Donald Trump (USA) and Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand) Confront a Pandemic
  • Trump Undermines the CDC, Pressures the FDA, Withdraws from WHO
  • Leadership Battles Over PPE and Ventilators
  • Scapegoating
  • Broken Trust
  • Judgement of America’s Leaders during the Pandemic

Chapter 13: The Future

  • The Future of COVID-19
  • Lessons to Learn
  • More Pandemics Will Come
  • What Will Happen Next?

Gregory E. Pence is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. A leading figure in bioethics, he is frequently interviewed by national news media, including CNN, CBS, and The New York Times. He is the author of several influential monographs and textbooks, including Medical Ethics: Accounts of Ground-Breaking Cases and Who’s Afraid of Human Cloning.

  • • A thorough overview of the many ethical issues connected with the COVID-19 pandemic
  • • Engages with empirical data and the real-world practical problems that bear on pandemic response
  • • Informed by foundational ideas in ethics as well as the latest in bioethics scholarship
  • • Examines COVID-19 in the context of other historical pandemics
  • A portion of the revenue from this book’s sales will be donated to Doctors Without Borders to assist the humanitarian work of nurses, doctors, and other health care providers in the fight against COVID-19 and beyond

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