Multiple candidate vaccines for coronavirus are being evaluated scientifically in a process of unprecedented speed, and thousands of individuals around the world have volunteered to participate in placebo-controlled phase III field trials. If, or when, one of these candidate vaccines is proved to be safe and effective and receives an emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, will it continue to be ethical to enroll participants in other coronavirus trials that randomize half of them to a placebo?
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by Bandy X. Lee, MD, Mdiv
Mary Trump’s recent article pinpointed our problem with “the Goldwater rule”: “in March 2017, shortly after [Donald Trump] was inaugurated, the APA didn’t just reaffirm the rule—it expanded it past the point of coherence.” This incoherence is the reason why we held an ethics conference at Yale School of Medicine by the title, “Does Professional Responsibility Include a Duty to Warn?” the very next month. It drew national attention and led to the public-service book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. The incoherence alarmed me enough to drop everything and to speak up, becoming a whistleblower not just of the president but of the American Psychiatric Association.…
by Jonathan H. Chen MD, PhD and Abraham Verghese MD, MACP
The post originally appeared as an editorial in the November 2020 issue of the American Journal of Bioethics.
Clinical medicine is an inexact science. In situations of uncertainty, we often ask an experienced colleague for a second opinion. But what if one could effectively call upon the experience of thousands? This might seem counterintuitive—too many cooks and “consultant creep” can spoil the broth. Yet Condorcet’s jury theorem, a centuries-old mathematical formulation, explains why we entrust juries to decide guilt or innocence rather than judges, and why we prefer voting democracies over dictators.…
This year’s Intersex Awareness Day, October 26, marks a historic pivot. Last week, Boston Children’s Hospital revealed that its physicians would no longer perform certain nonconsensual infant genital surgeries on babies born with atypical genitals. They join the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, which made a similar announcement in July and even apologized to its former intersex patients. Intersex advocates have been working toward this goal for decades.
by Craig Klugman, Ph.D
In the last few weeks, you may have heard from central and left-leaning media that Scott Atlas, a radiologist who appears to be leading White House COVID policy, has managed to make “herd immunity” the official federal response to COVID-19.
If you prefer right-leaning media, then you may have heard of the Great Barrington Declaration, an international document led by three scientists that urges against lock downs, quarantine, and isolation, and instead suggests letting young people get COVID to help build herd immunity. “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk.…