Technoethics of Vaccines During the Coronavirus Pandemic
This page originally created by Amreen T. (2020-21)
COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. This is due to the rapid increase in the number of cases in the world and the growing rates it is affecting people at. (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for the outbreak of COVID-19, which began in December of 2019. This advisory is based on currently available scientific evidence as of February 29, 2020 and is subject to review and change as new information becomes available.
Ethics Applied in the Pandemic
Ethics plays a role when making decisions related to moral principles. Wikipedia addresses ethics as something that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behaviour" (2020). A recent subject of matter regarding ethics has risen just this year in march, the novel coronavirus. According to UNDP “the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and one of the greatest challenges we have faced”(2020) Doctors have worked in difficult circumstances to create vaccines, and just recently they have accomplished that. The vaccine is available, but now the complication of who will receive it has emerged, which is a decision that will be determined with the help of ethics. After considering contrasting factors (i.e. need, vulnerability, risk, etc.), a conclusion on four phases was showcased to the public.
The Fundaments of the Plan
The first phase of testing would include first responders and front line workers as the ethical concern is how they are constantly exposed to bodily fluids and other infected patients with viruses. This would cover phase one A and five percent of the population, which would allow phase one B to take place. These recipients include another ten percent of the population which would be vulnerable people who have pre-existing lung or heart conditions. Their sickness puts them at a greater risk of getting the virus, as their organs are feeble. Phase two and three would cover workers that are at risk, but not to the acuteness of medical workers (i.e. homeless shelters, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, etc.) The people who work in these places would be of risk as they work with and help multiple people at one time. Phase four would involve everybody else, over sixteen, who was not given the vaccine in the previous phases. The last three phases are simply fundamental propositions for the future as they help lay out a plan.
Society vs. Vaccines
Due to the limited supply of the vaccine, only healthcare and hospital workers will get it, as they are the most exposed to patients with the virus. Professionals have addressed that after the first phase has been completed, much more of the vaccine should be readily available which will make progress in phase two and three relatively quick. The vaccine will be available to everyone at this point, but it is not certain that everyone will want to receive it. It will be recommended that people get it, but no doctor or person can force the shot onto anyone. AMA Public Health states that a poll conducted indicated that multiple people were hesitant about the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) vaccination , but they believe people will change their minds after seeing positive results in phase one and two. Who and when people get the vaccine was determined by facts, but also ethics because in this case virtue needed to be looked at alongside other considering factors. What I concluded from my research is these ethics are rightfully used to make decisions, for everyone's best interests.
Wikipedia (2020). Who gets coronavirus vaccine first? Ethics, equity drive plan.
Strazewski, L. (2020). Ethics.