Monkeying around with coronavirus


The number and range of articles about Covid-19 in the bioethics arena alone is staggering. However, the topic of privacy and confidentiality has not been high on the agenda. Perhaps they should be, as there are risks.

A reader drew to my attention to news from India which raises some questions. A band of monkeys attacked a lab technician and spirited away blood samples of humans who had tested positive for coronavirus. The incident took place on the campus of a medical college in Meerut, in Uttar Pradesh.

Much remains to be known about Covid-19, but it appears that monkeys are not susceptible. So it is a mystery as to what the thieves intended to do with the blood samples. I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if they were stolen for research. But you never know. We’ll keep you informed.

to make a comment, click here

 

Immunity passports controversy


The coronavirus pandemic should have been an Iwo Jima moment for utilitarian bioethicists with their flag fluttering proudly on a blood-soaked hilltop. After all, the emergency seemed quite propitious for calculating the greatest good of the greatest number. However, as Oxford medical ethicist Charles Foster wryly observes, politicians everywhere embraced a "crude vitalism" instead. 

This was best expressed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in March. He told the media -- and voters: “My mother is not expendable. And your mother is not expandable…We’re not going to accept a premise that human life is disposable. We’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life." Out the window went utilitarian policies. 

Is the same dynamic being played out in the simmering debate over immunity passports? Read below. 

to make a comment, click here

 

Conspiracy theories


If I receive an email which begins: "The World Deserves the Truth…. Please brace yourself for the following information I’m about to share with you", I am not inclined to believe it. 

However, this particular one is so creative that it deserves to be shared. Apparently NASA and the Vatican Observatory learned in November that an asteroid was about to hit our planet. Soon afterwards, a top-secret UN meeting was convoked to develop a strategy to keep the world calm and give governments the best possible chance of maintaining public order. So they came up with the idea of releasing a coronavirus. Everyone would have to shelter at home. So that's why we are all washing out hands.... and waiting for annihilation. 

That does sound a bit far-fetched, but how do you deal with other conspiracy theories? The most popular one at the moment is Plandemic, a movie whose teaser has been censored by Google and Facebook. But is censorship the best strategy? 

to make a comment, click here

 

Covid-19 issues


Now that most countries are thinking of slowing lifting lockdowns and relaxing social distancing restrictions, the issue of coronavirus 'passports' is emerging as the next big ethical issue for epidemiologists. Should people get a stamp on identity cards (what identity cards?) confirming that they are 'clean'? Sounds sensible -- at first. See the articles below. 

to make a comment, click here

 

Nursing homes in the pandemic


Like rivets popping on a sinking ship, the stresses of the pandemic are showing the weakness in our societies. Suddenly we realise how much we depend on humble workers who provide essential services, how much we depend on supply chains, how vulnerable the elderly are, and so on. And everyone has become an epidemiologist. 

One statistic that caught my eye was the number of over-65s in care per thousand of population. This came up as part of Donald Trump's boast that the per capita death rate in the United States is far lower than the highest nation, which was Belgium. There's a reason for that -- Belgium is counting many deaths in nursing homes as deaths from coronavirus, even if the people had not been tested. 

But a chart in the BBC story showed that Belgium also has the the third highest proportion of people in nursing homes in Europe, 71 per thousand. Even higher were the Netherlands (75) and Luxembourg (82). Is it a coincidence that these three countries have also legalised euthanasia? What does that figure say about their social structure? After the pandemic has passed, it would be good to follow this up. 

to make a comment, click here

 

Wild theories


I'm not sure who was the first to say, "“Never let a good crisis go to waste". But lots of people are taking this wisdom to heart in the Covid-19 pandemic. It's a time when unconventional ideas will get a warmer welcome than usual because of the fear and the sense of urgency in the air. Perhaps that's why organ donation euthanasia sounds a bit more plausible if Covid-19 victims are doing the donating. See the report below.  

to make a comment, click here

 

Coronavirus pandemic continues


It takes a strong character not to get a bit dejected at the current situation. If you're not sick, you're probably in isolation. Still worse, you could be in isolation and jobless. You need some cheering up, so my advice is to watch this video about hand-washing from Uganda. The artist is H.E. Bobi Wine, an extraordinary character who is a local pop star and a candidate for president in upcoming elections. 

to make a comment, click here

 

More about coronavirus


One of the saddest stories from the coronavirus pandemic comes from Iran. As of Friday, there had been 53,000 cases and 3,300 deaths. But, adding to the country's misery, hundreds of people have died after drinking methanol as a “remedy”. It illustrates the danger of a panicked response to the virus. Most of our other stories revolve around the crisis as well.

We'll be taking a break next week for the Easter holiday. See you later in the month. 

Michael Cook  
Editor, BioEdge 

to make a comment, click here

 

The partying is over


My favourite quote about coronavirus does not come from one of the internet's legion of epidemiological experts, but from an American college student on spring break in Miami. “If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I'm not gonna let it stop me from partying”. After appearing on CBS News, he regrets saying that. Anyhow, we are taking the pandemic seriously at BioEdge, as you can see in our articles below. 

to make a comment, click here

 

More about the coronavirus pandemic


One of the guidelines of the UK’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics about the coronavirus pandemic (see below) is that “Liberty-infringing measures to control disease, such as quarantine and isolation, can be justified if the risk of harm to others can be significantly reduced.”

I agree, but I am still surprised at how few questions have been raised about the draconian restrictions on civil liberties prompted by the crisis. These are sure to lead to recession, soaring unemployment, bankruptcies, and social dislocation. They are the harshest that I have ever experienced in my lifetime – and, with few exceptions, there’s been nary a peep of opposition. In fact, my impression is that op-ed pages segued smoothly from anger at government overreach to anger at government underreach in a month.  

How long can lockdowns be sustained? As the Wall Street Journal points out, “no society can safeguard public health for long at the cost of its overall economic health.” I don't think that it is utilitarian to observe that deferring or suppressing discussion of the costs, financial and social, of our response to the coronavirus could backfire. Human dignity is paramount; acting ethically is essential. But good ethics is based on a knowledge of all the facts -- and not just the facts about hand-washing. 

to make a comment, click here

 

Page 1 of 48 :  1 2 3 >  Last ›


 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed