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In the Media: The Hastings Center Responds to Covid-19

The Hastings Center’s research scholars have been talking with the press and writing on ethical issues raised by the coronavirus pandemic. Here is a selected roundup:

Hastings Center fellow Arthur Caplan breaks down “compassionate use” in the experimental treatment of the president. Read in STAT News about “compassionate use” of unapproved drugs. What is it? Who gets it? How do you get it?

Concern about Russia registering an unproven the vaccine led The Verge to Hastings Center scholar Karen Maschke: “Science takes a while.” 

The Verge talked to Hastings Center scholar Karen Maschke about vaccine testing: “With concerns about science, and anti-science sentiment, you have to be really, really careful that you get enough data.”

The New York Times‘s recent article about rationing, “Should Youth Come First in Coronavirus Care?” is based on our Bioethics Forum essay, “On Being an Elder in a Pandemic” by bioethicist Larry Churchill.

Newsday speaks to Hastings Center scholar Nancy Berlinger about the prospects of working during a pandemic: “The big ethical challenge is how should employers create and support safe work conditions during a continuing health emergency,” she said.

Mother Jones reports on the pandemic situation in Texas, with expert opinion from Hastings Center scholar Nancy Berlinger: “The tremendous effort on the part of governors and hospitals to get ventilators and beds into places where they were needed staved off the need for triage, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. . . .”

Hastings Center fellow Joseph Fins writes in The Conversation that COVID-19 Makes Clear That Bioethics Must Confront Health Disparities.

The Hill published As the Pandemic Continues, Where Will All the Children Go? by Hastings Center research scholars Josie Johnston and Carolyn Neuhaus

Wired talked to Hastings Center research scholar Karen Maschke about the ethics of testing on the poor. “There are long-standing research ethics questions around conducting research in resource-limited countries.” 

Newsday discussed reopening the nation with Hastings Center president Mildred Solomon. “We humans like to think in either or, black and white,” Soloman said. “We say, ‘we think that we have to trade off between economic well being and health,’ when in fact they are very intertwined … the goal should be to solve a problem that takes into account all the different things we have to consider and recognizes interrelationships between economic and health well-being.”

Where do you draw the line on coronavirus risk-taking? Hastings Center scholar Nancy Berlinger talks to The Philadelphia Inquirer about what’s known in the field as “ethics free riders,” people who “are benefiting from a system that they have undermined.” 

NJ Spotlight held a roundtable with health care leaders to discuss how health care and state institutions decide priorities in care, staffing, and supply allocation. Hastings Center scholar Nancy Berlinger joined in

Minnesota Public Radio’s Kerri Miller talks to Hastings Center president Mildred Solomon about the ethics of reopening America, covering questions about new ethical conundrums that are rising up. Is it OK to test an unknown vaccine on human subjects? Once a vaccine is developed, who gets it first? What about hoarding? How do we balance our own freedom against the good of the group?

The Guardian talks to Hastings Center president Mildred Solomon about legal immunity for nursing homes.

Politico discusses what the aging population faces during the Covid-19 pandemic with Nancy Berlinger, Hastings Center research scholar. “It’s often called the invisible population — but it’s an overlooked population.” 

The New York Times talks to Hastings Center scholar Michael Gusmano about what vaccinating 350 million Americans against Covid-19 would look like. “[Y]ou’re talking about a fairly massive vaccination campaign.” 

Forbes article by Andrew Pulrang echoes disability scholar and activist Ari Ne’eman, writing for The Hastings Center.

The Guardian, in an article that examines the ‘gut-wrenching’ choices facing health workers, such as who gets a ventilator, quotes The Hastings Center’s president Mildred Solomon. 
WWL First News with Tommy Tucker radio show interviews The Hastings Center’s president Mildred Solomon about nursing homes being hard hit by Covid-19.
Health Affairs Grantwatch blog mentions The Hastings Center’s Donaghue Impact Fund-supported resources on Covid-19.
Deseret News quotes Hastings Center scholar Nancy Berlinger on the crisis standards of care in an article about older adults and people with disabilities who will bear the brunt of this pandemic.

The Atlantic writes about disability bias regarding who receives treatment during the coronavirus pandemic and quotes Hastings Center scholar Nancy Berlinger.

National Interest uses the work of The Hastings Center’s cofounder Dan Callahan to study the ethics of treatment and age during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Laura Coates (Sirius XM radio host) talks to The Hastings Center’s president Mildred Solomon about the moral imperative for the federal government to do more to respond to the crisis.

National Catholic Interest expresses concern for the common good, and cites The Hastings Center’s president Mildred Solomon and 1,400 scientists and bioethicists who signed a letter to the White House demanding they use the DPA to increase production of much needed medical supplies.

The New York Times cites and links to The Hastings Center’s ethics resource for health care institutions responding to COVID-19. Read the article. This resource was sent to hospitals and other medical professional associations across the country. 

Wired quotes Nancy Berlinger on ethical allocation of life-saving medical equipment. What would rationing a ventilator mean? “This is being discussed all over America right now,” she said. “What do people agree on? What rules are the total outliers? If we had national guidance, it would be simpler.”

Stateline quotes Nancy Berlinger on decisions about who should get care and links to The Hastings Center’s resource for health care institutions responding to COVID-19. Read the article.

Politico, in an article about the ethics of health care resource allocation: “These are topics we won’t like to talk about–triage, resource allocation, extreme scarcity,” said Nancy Berlinger, a prominent bioethics researcher at the Hastings Center, a New York state-based think tank, who is working on a more consistent national approach. “We don’t have coordination across the country or at the state level. Hospitals and health systems are trying to figure it out for themselves.” Read the article.

Associated Press quotes Nancy Berlinger on why ethics guidelines call for triage teams, rather than bedside doctors and nurses, to make triage decisions. Read the article. 

Daily Nous discusses and links to the petition signed by nearly 1,400 bioethicists and health care leaders calling on the federal government to take various steps to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and help medical professionals avoid the difficult decisions involved in rationing medical care. Read the article

Politico. Hastings Center president Mildred Solomon on The Hastings Center letter sent to Congress and the White House, demanding more government action against COVID-19. Nearly 1,400 bioethicists and health leaders signed the letter, imploring the administration  to use the Defense Production Act and other federal powers to secure supplies, cover Covid-19 treatments and protect the vulnerable. “Even the most conservative political theories recognize that governments do sometimes have to take directive actions and markets alone cannot solve these problems,”  Solomon told POLITICO. Read the article. Read more about The Hastings Center’s letter to Congress and the White House.

Scientific American. “Anthony Fauci Shows Us the Right Way to Be an Expert,” by Hastings research scholar Gregory Kaebnick. Read the article.

NPR “All Things Considered.” Research scholar Nancy Berlinger on the need for guidelines not just for determining which patients to treat but how long to treat them: “Let’s say a patient is on a ventilator but isn’t improving, and this patient might — might — do better if they were allowed to stay on the ventilator longer, but there are people waiting for that ventilator. Do you withdraw the ventilation earlier than you might normally do? So it’s not just who gets the vent — it’s also who stays on it.” Listen here.  

USA Today. Research scholar Nancy Berlinger on difficult choices that medical workers and family members often must make, compounded during a pandemic: “First come, first served is not the best way to make decisions about access to care. That would give priority to people who are diagnosed first. So we have to think that nobody is going to have an unlimited claim on a limited resource.” Read the article.

CNET. Research scholar Nancy Berlinger on the burden of COVID-19 on gig economy workers. “A crisis like this exposes every weak spot in our safety net,” she said. The article linked to the Hastings ethics resource on COVID-19. Read the article.

Medium. Research scholar Karen Maschke on COVID-19 vaccine trial that bypasses animal studies. Read the article.

Stat News. Hastings research scholar Karen Maschke on the ethics of breaking research ethics protocol with plans to test a COVID-19 vaccine in humans before testing it in animal test: “Even if researchers decide it’s worth forging ahead and testing a new vaccine’s safety in people while still figuring out whether it works to prevent infections in susceptible animals, they need to be ready to stop the human trial if the results don’t look good in mice,” she said. Read the article. Scientific American reposts the article.

The New York Times. Hastings Center senior advisor Rosemary Gibson on U.S. efforts to end dependence on China for drug supplies: “If China shut the door on exports of core components to make our medicines, within months our pharmacy shelves would become bare and our health care system would cease to function,” she said. Read the article.

The Nation. Hastings Center senior advisor Rosemary Gibson’s testimony to the Senate on potential risks to national security posed medical supplies from China threatened by the coronavirus pandemic. Read the article.