COVID 19 - Ethics Spotlight

(test) The COVID-19 pandemic has created or highlighted key bioethics issues that face our healthcare system and society at large. On this page, IU Center for Bioethics faculty and staff provide their analysis of the challenges emerging from COVID-19 and possible solutions.

Dr. Aaron E. Carroll

Healthcare Triage

Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, Faculty Investigator at the IU Center for Bioethics and Professor of Pediatrics at IU School of Medicine, releases videos every week on his YouTube channel, Healthcare Triage.

During the pandemic he and his team are answering questions and busting myths using scientific research and medical expertise.

Watch latest Covid-19 video:

Dr. Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds

COVID-19 and the Black Community

Dr. Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds, faculty investigator at the Indiana University Center for Bioethics, and Assistant Dean for Diversity Affairs at the IU School of Medicine, spoke with WFYI to explore how COVID-19 is impacting the black community in Indianapolis. Listen Here

Dr. Mary Ott


Dr. Mary Ott, faculty investigator at IU Center for Bioethics and Professor of Pediatrics at IU School of Medicine, recently presented a TREATs Talk (Translational Research Ethics- Applied Topics). Her presentation, "Ethics of Virtual Engagement and Data Collection" explores ethical issues associated with increased online health appointments in the time of COVID-19. Watch Dr. Ott's presentation here and then visit the channel page to see the rest of our library.

Center Faculty and Staff Write about COVID-19


IUCB faculty and staff have been using our blog platform to respond to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic through the lens of a bioethics framework. Topics covered include ethics of allocation, lessons from quarantine about isolation and connection, ethics of government and public response, and ethical violations of lock down orders. We will continue throughout the pandemic and beyond to respond to relevant topics on this site.


Dr. Colin Halverson

Journal of Community Genetics

Home Testing for COVID-19: Lessons from direct to consumer genetics

Professors Halverson (Bioethics) and Wilson (Medical Genetics) lay out practical and ethical issues encountered in the world of direct-to-consumer genetic testing that suggest potential pitfalls and work-arounds for the rollout of direct-to-consumer COVID testing.

Topics and Reading from Center Faculty and Staff

In this section, IU Center for Bioethics faculty and staff share articles that address important topics related to bioethics and the COVID-19 pandemic. This section is updated regularly as new articles and topics come up, so bookmark the page and return regularly for new articles and discussion.

The world is facing unprecedented challenges in coping with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The best way forward, internationally, nationally, and locally, will be through implementation of robust public health policies that are based on the latest scientific evidence.

Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience (Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard)

National Covid-19 Testing Action Plan (The Rockefeller Foundation)

National Action Plan for Expanding and Adapting the Healthcare System for the Duration of theCOVID

Pandemic (Johns Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health)

Amid the Coronavirus Crisis, a Regimen for Reentry (Atul Gawande, The New Yorker)

There Are 3 Things We Have to Do to Get People Wearing Masks (Angela Duckworth, Lyle Ungar & Ezekiel J. Emanuel, New York Times)

The idea of using "Immunity Passports" to guide restrictions of personal freedoms did not originate with the novel coronavirus, but the unique situation of a widespread and highly contagious illness, limited effective treatments and especially no vaccine, severely limits the applicability of such passports. Legal and ethical concerns suggest unforeseen consequences. The following articles address these ethical and legal concerns.

Why COVID-19 immunity passports may violate US law (Seema M aha pat ra, The Conversation)

TheEthicsofCOVID-19Immunity-BasedLicenses("ImmunityPassports11    (Govind Persad & Ezekiel J. Emanuel, JAMA) 

Immunity Passports and Moral Hazard (Daniel Jacob Hemel & Anup Malani, University of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 743)

Ten reasons why immunity passports are a bad idea (Natalie Kofler & Franc;oise Baylis, Nature)

New bioethics questions and challenges arise during a pandemic, including whether to cut corners in design and reporting of research to try to move faster to understanding and cure, and whether to utilize approach involving human subjects that would not be acceptable in other times.

Against Pandemic Research Exceptionalism (Alex John London & Johnathan Kimmelman, Science)

Research During COVID (Megan Doerr & Jennifer K. Wagner, Journal of Law and the Biosciences)

Human Challenge Studies to Accelerate Coronavirus Vaccine Licensure (Nir Eyal, Marc Lipsitch, & Peter G. Smith, The Journal of Infectious Diseases)
Q&A with the author.

The Challenges of Challenge Experiments (Susan E. Lederer, The New England Journal of Medicine)

A strategic approach to COVID-19 vaccine R&D (Lawrence Corey, John R. Mascola, Anthony S. Fauci, Francis S. Collins, Science)

This pandemic has amplified and transformed responsible for exposing the vast health and economic disparities that exist in the US in healthcare and society. Policymakers are being challenged as never before to address growing inequalities that the current system propagates. The following articles address why these disparities exist and highlight some proposals to counter them.

America Can Afford a World-Class Healthcare System: Why don't we have one? (Anne Case and Angus Deaton, NY Times)

The Covid-19 Riddle: Why Does the Virus Wallop Some Places and Spare Others? (Hannah Beech, Alissa J. Ru bin, Anatoly Kurmanaev and Ruth Maclean, NY Times)

We can't recover from a coronoavirus recession without helping young workers (Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman, Brookings Institute)

The large and unequal impact of COVID on workers (Abigail Adams-Prassl, Teodora Boneva, Marta Golin, and Christopher Rauh, Vox)

The effect of COVID-19 and disease suppression policies on labor markets (Jonathan Rothwell and Hannah Van Orie, Brookings Institute)

Covid-19, (ln)visible Mothers, and the State (Cultural Anthropology) (Lindsay Donaldson, Society for Cultural Anthropo/og'/'J

The tragic history of racial mistreatment and bias in the US has always affected healthcare and research involving people of color. These disparities are now contributing to the disproportionate rates of death faced by Black Americans.

Indiana's Black Death Rates from COVID-19: Institutional Sources of Disparity (Breanca Merritt, Center for Research on Inclusion & Social Policy)

Medical Bias (John Eligon and Audra D. S. Burch, NY Times)

Other Resources from the Center and Beyond

Regenstrief Dashboard

Peter Embi, Associate Dean for Informatics and Health Services Research, IUCB faculty investigator, and President and CEO of the Regenstrief Institute, joined his colleagues in creating the Regenstrief Dashboard- an Indiana specific dashboard to track COVID-19 related cases, hospitalizations, and mortality. The information is separated by demographic and regional information.

Indiana CTSI COVID-19 Daily Digest

A partnership between the Indiana CTSl's Monon Collaborative and the Indiana FSSA to engage Indiana's nationally-recognized academic experts to evaluate and inform Indiana practices, programs, and policies.

WHO Global Health Ethics, Resources on Ethics and COVID-19

Links to statements by national ethics committees, international organizations, and national bodies and professional associations about the ethics of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Toolkit: Bioethics Resources for COVID-19 has collected blog posts, resources, guidelines, and other information for people dealing with COVID-19.