Ethics Resources on the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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

Hastings developed a resource for health care institutions and ethics services to support leadership and practice during the coronavirus public health emergency: Ethical Framework for Health Care Institutions Responding to Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19); Guidelines for Institutional Ethics Services Responding to COVID-19:
it is accompanied by a slide deck (new):

Hastings developed a pandemic ethics briefing, adapted from work by Alexandra Minna Stern and Howard Markel, that examines the ethics of quarantine, school closures, and social distancing. It offers principles to guide implementation of these measures:

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

Here, we collect COVID-19 Hastings published in the Hastings Center Report and on Bioethics Forum:

· Clear directions on how to navigate the COVID-19 public health emergency legally and ethically is presented by Lawrence O. Gostin, Eric A. Friedman, and Sarah A. Wetter:

· In an examination of the steps to take after the COVID-19 infection curve is flattened, Mark Rothstein looks at the longer term response to the emergency, and notes the need for trust in public health.

· An essay by Sridhar Venkatapuram argues that public health ethics is not primarily about the conflict between the interests of the few versus the greater good. It is about how we organize our society and how we relate to one another.

· In an essay on New York City’s response to the pandemic, Kelly McBride Folkers argues that the lack of health care and sick leave for the city’s most vulnerable could undermine efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

· An essay on the crisis of trust, by Alexandra Friedman, 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.

· 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 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

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?

A 2015 Hastings Center Report legal analysis on Ebola by Mark Rothstein

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.