Pandemic Bioethics
  • Publication Date: June 14, 2021
  • ISBN: 9781554815210 / 1554815215
  • 256 pages; 6" x 9"

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Pandemic Bioethics

  • Publication Date: June 14, 2021
  • ISBN: 9781554815210 / 1554815215
  • 256 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.


“Gregory Pence’s Pandemic Bioethics offers readers a sweeping, whirlwind tour of many of the ethical challenges encountered as SARS CoV-2 emerged and devastated the globe. Pence is a skilled storyteller, educating readers about the historical context of pandemics and the ethical questions unfolding with real-time medical, research, and societal successes and failures. Consistent with his longstanding attention to classic and ground-breaking cases in medical ethics, Pence challenges readers to capitalize on lessons learned from COVID-19 in order to make appropriate ethical decisions during this pandemic—and in ones to come.” — Christine Grady, Chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center

Pandemic Bioethics is an extraordinary achievement. Pence expertly blends a wide range of relevant information about the pandemic with a variety of ethical theories to explore the many issues the pandemic raises for bioethics. This book could serve as the basis for a course in bioethics, but it is so readable that it should interest anyone who wants a better understanding of decision making during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.” — Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University

Pandemic Bioethics has it all, addressing historical and modern pandemics, policymaking and triage decisions, the development and allocation of vaccines, and current issues concerning privacy rights and vaccine ‘passports.’ This book is timely and necessary reading.” — Jennifer Parks, Professor of Philosophy, Loyola University Chicago

Pandemic Bioethics is a much-needed resource for educating health-care professionals, government leaders, and the general public about the history of infectious disease outbreaks and how to evaluate the ethical propriety of various public health measures. Pence’s book will be an invaluable tool as the world prepares for the next major outbreak.” — Jason T. Eberl, Professor of Health Care Ethics and Philosophy, Saint Louis University

“Gregory Pence provides both an illuminating reference guide for experts to the thorny moral problems of this pandemic and an enlightening text for students.… [The book’s] readability will allow for even undergraduate students to understand the main issues explored. I highly recommend Pandemic Bioethics as a book for multiple research and pedagogical purposes—it will not disappoint.” — Dale Murray, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, in Teaching Philosophy

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

Chapter 3 The Medical Nature of SARS2

  • Disputed Origins of SARS2
  • The Clinical Course of COVID-19
  • Transmission and 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 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
  • Prisoner’s 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 Status Certificates

  • Defining Key Terms
  • What Is the Purpose of Status Certificates?
  • Benefits of Status Certificates
  • Problems with Status Certificates

Chapter 11 Structural Inequalities and 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
  • The WHO’s Leaders Made Mistakes
  • Donald Trump and American Leadership
  • Judgment of US Leaders during the Pandemic

Chapter 13 The Future

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

About the Author

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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