COVID 19 - Ethics Spotlight

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. To see older entries, please visit the archived pages here.

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:

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. Brownsyne Tucker-Edmonds

Tucker-Edmonds, Profit, Shah, Cheyney, " The Covid - 19 Pandemic as a Catalyst for More Integrated Maternity Care", American Journal of Public Health, November 2020.

Dr. Aaron E. Carroll

Dr. Carroll is a prolific writer of COVID related articles. Here are just a few of his highlights from The New York Times, The Atlantic, NPR, and The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). 

New York Times 

The Atlantic

Peer Reviewed Articles

"Longitudinal SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion and functional heterogeneity in a pediatric dialysis unit" Kidney International (February 2021)

"Infection fatality ratios for COVID-19 among noninstitutionalized persons 12 and older: results of a random-sample prevalence study" Annals of Internal Medicine (January 2021)

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. With these policies, though, come essential bioethical questions.

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Global Poliovirus Surveillance (Zomahoun, Burman, et al..)

Op-Ed: How COVID-19 caused the U.S. to implement universal healthcare(Amy Faith Ho)


The idea of using "Immunity Passports" to give some people special freedoms to move or work has become seriously considered during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the unique situation of a widespread and highly contagious illness, limited effective treatments and or vaccine.  But this approach raises serious legal and ethical concerns.

Queue questions: Ethics of COVID-19 vaccine prioritization (Alberto Giubilini, Julian Savulescu, & Dominic Wilkinson, Bioethics)

Vaccinating Detained Migrants Against SARS-COV-2 - Preventing Another Tragedy(Palacios, Travassos, The New England Journal of Medicine)

Passport to freedom? Immunity passports for COVID-19 (Rebecca Brown, Julian Savulescu, Bridget Williams, & Dominic Wilkinson, Journal of Medical Ethics)


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 approaches involving human subjects that would not be considered acceptable in other times. 

Funding of Pharmaceutical Innovation During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic(James Robinson, JAMA)

Reporting Clinical Studies Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic: Guidelines for Authors ( Roy Perlis, Sebastien Haneuse, & Gordon Rubenfield, JAMA)


This pandemic is has amplified and transformed the vast health and economic disparities that exist in the US in healthcare and society.  The following articles address why these disparities exist and highlight proposals to counter them. 

Rethinking Wellness in Health Care Amid Rising COVID-19- Associated Emotional Distress (Bryant Adibe, JAMA)

Socioeconomic Disparities in Patient Use of Telehealth During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Surge (Ilaaf Darrat, Samantha Tam, MD, & Marwan Boulis, JAMA)


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.

Black Lives and Health Justice (Elizabeth A. Nelson, Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics)

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


Other Resources from the Center and Beyond

Regenstrief Dashboard

Dr. 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.