Ethics Resources on the Coronavirus (Covid-19)

As communities across the world work to navigate the pandemic, The Hastings Center has assembled ethics resources for responding to novel coronavirus Covid-19. We are updating this hub throughout the crisis.

Scholars at The Hastings Center developed a resource for health care institutions and ethics services to support leadership and practice during the emergency:

It is accompanied by a slide set for hospital ethics committees and clinical ethics consultations.

The Hastings Center developed a pandemic ethics briefing, adapted from work by Alexandra Minna Stern and Howard Markel, that offers principles to guide implementation of quarantine, school closures, and social distancing.

Nearly 1,400 of the nation’s most prominent bioethicists and health leaders signed a letter to Congress and the White House, calling for Trump Administration to use the Defense Production Act for Covid-19.

Below, you’ll find a collection of helpful articles on COVID-19 from the Hastings Center Report and Bioethics Forum:

A Hastings Center Report piece by The Hastings Center’s president Mildred Solomon, the O’Neill chair in global health law Lawrence Gostin, and medical professor Matthew Wynia on the need for immediate, powerful, and sustained federal action regarding the scarcity of needed medical supplies:

A series of Bioethics Forum posts between Joseph Fins, a Hastings Center Board member and a member of the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, and Ari Ne’eman, a disability activist who wrote an op ed in the New York Times. Follow their discussion:

How soon can those in areas affected by the virus consider a return to work, by Arthur Caplan:

How to navigate the COVID-19 public health emergency legally and ethically, by Lawrence O. Gostin, Eric A. Friedman, and Sarah A. Wetter:  

What steps to take after the COVID-19 infection curve flattens. The longer term response to the emergency, and the need for trust in public health, by Mark Rothstein:

An argument that public health ethics is not primarily about the conflict between the interests of the few versus the greater good, but rather more about how we organize our society and how we relate to one another, by Sridhar Venkatapuram:

An essay on New York City’s response to the pandemic and the lack of health care and sick leave for the city’s most vulnerable which could undermine efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus, by Kelly McBride Folkers:

An essay on the crisis of trust that argues that the primary culprits of COVID-19—institutional disinformation and concealment of information—have particularly eroded trust in international and government words and actions among the general public, by Alexandra Friedman:

In the second of two essays on transparency in fighting Coronavirus, Hastings Fellows in China, Ruipeng Lei and Renzong Qiu, give us an insider’s view on how authorities must make reforms. 

In their first essay, they note that “transparency is a key principle” in addressing the coronavirus.

Other coronavirus and pandemic ethics resources:

World Health Organization: Managing Ethical Issues in Infectious Disease Outbreaks

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control: Ethical guidelines in Pandemic Influenza

Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 resource center:

National Academy of Medicine: Duty to Plan: Health Care, Crisis Standards of Care, and Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

AMA Journal of Ethics COVID-19 Ethics Resource Center

University of Washington Medicine COVID-19 resources

The Nuffield Council: Guide to the ethics of surveillance and quarantine for novel coronavirus

News stories related to Covid-19:

How the Coronavirus May Force Doctors to Decide Who Can Live and Who Dies

What if Two COVID-19 Victims Need Ventilators and Just One Is Available?

Health Affairs: Health Care Priorities For A COVID-19 Stimulus Bill: Recommendations To The Administration, Congress, And Other Federal, State And Local Leaders From Public Health, Medical, Policy And Legal Experts

NEJM: History in a Crisis — Lessons for Covid-19

Could – Or Should – The Government Impose A Mass Quarantine On An American City?


The Hastings Center has never shied away from the toughest ethical challenges faced by society.


The Hastings Center has never shied away from the toughest ethical challenges faced by society.