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Author Archive: Blog Editor

by Matthew Cote, MD, FACEP

As the first two major vaccinations for COVID-19 have started to be widely distributed in the United States, a disturbing trend is emerging: many healthcare workers who presumably are educated about the vaccine, are declining to receive it.  While not unanticipated, the degree to which it is occurring among healthcare providers is concerning.  The numbers are not trivial, with up to 40% of some healthcare workers declining the opportunity to get vaccinated as reported recently in the LA Times, Forbes, and AP News.  Frontline healthcare workers as a group have the most medical knowledge and firsthand experience in dealing with people who have become infected with COVID-19. …

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by Richard B. Gibson

Ensuring that healthcare resources are made available to those in the greatest need of them – be that individuals, groups, populations, or countries – is not only a matter of public health but also one of ethics. A failure to implement appropriate resources allocation, reflective of a situation’s specific demands, illustrates not only an ignorance of public health factors but also betrays ethical shortcomings. In short, those stakeholders facing the toughest healthcare challenges should be afforded the greatest number of resources.

Does this mean, if one applies this form of reasoning to the global Covid-19 vaccination strategy, it follows then that those countries facing the most virulent viral variations should be given priority access to the vaccine?…

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by Vincent LaBarca, DNP

Healthcare workers are dying. As of December 31st, 2020, more than 300,000 American healthcare workers (HCWs) have been infected with the coronavirus. Tragically, at least 1,100 have died.

The circumstances facing HCWs are dire: Covid positive nurses are being forced to work. Hospitals are still scrambling for protective gear. Hiccups in vaccine distribution have led to debates of priority between colleagues. All of these factors have contributed to a rise in mental and physical illness, burnout, and moral distress among HCWs.

Which leads me to wonder: Why? Why are HCWs putting themselves and their loved ones at such risk?…

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by Keisha Ray, PhD and Alyssa Burgart, MD, MA


Although I have been an editor at for 2 years now, I have been a consistent author since 2014, when Craig Klugman, then editor, invited me to be a regular contributor. Craig offered guidance and it is partly because of his efforts I am able to continue as blog editor. I hope to be a good partner to my new co-editor, Dr. Alyssa Burgart, just like Craig was to me. Although Craig will no longer be an editor at the blog, he will be missed, but his work in shaping the blog lives on.…

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by David Oxman, MD, HEC-C

 Vaccines for COVID-19 are becoming available, with the first batches of a highly effective vaccine adminstered this past week. Given limited initial supplies, doses are prioritized to high-risk groups, including health care workers. The virus has ravaged US health care workers — killing as many as 1700 and causing serious illness to tens of thousands more. Yet despite these numbers, a significant number of health care workers say they are not sure if they will take a COVID-19 vaccine. Recent survey of health care workers find a significant proportion who were uncertain about whether they would take a COIVD-19 vaccine if offered. …

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by Amie Devlin, MPH, MA

As a pregnant epidemiologist and bioethicist with an interest in clinical research, the development of the COVID-19 vaccines has been the equivalent of the Super Bowl to me. I can’t begin to count the number of times that I’ve explained to my husband over dinner the importance of sample size or debated the ethics of challenge trials. And if you had asked me two weeks ago about my feelings on offering the vaccine to pregnant people, I would have easily espoused the pros of our FDA review process, the differences between a theoretical risk and a proven risk, and the need to respect the autonomy of pregnant people. …

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by Asma Fazal, MD, MRCPI, MHSc

Covid-19 pandemic has changed world dynamics. Measures such as wearing a face mask, regular hand washing, cleaning surfaces with disinfecting substances, and practicing physical distancing have proven to be effective in controlling the spread of Covid-19. But now people are protesting the face mask mandate and considering it as an infringement of their right to live freely and decide for themselves. We should understand that the unprecedented measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 infection have resulted in school closure world-wide. This sudden and prolong school closure has negatively impacted the social, emotional, and behavioral aspects of childhood development and academics.…

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by John H. Evans, Ph.D.

In this issue [of The American Journal of Bioethics], McCarthy, Homan and Rozier (henceforth MHR) make the case for re-stablishing the relationship between theological and secular bioethics. I find MHR to be quite informative and find little with which to disagree.

As historians of bioethics note, theology was central to the earlier days of American bioethics but is no longer. Before we assess whether the relationship between theological and secular bioethics can be reestablished, we need to know why it was dis-established. Theologians lost interest in (or were excluded from, depending on your perspective) core parts of bioethics NOT because of their transcendent assumptions or “God talk.”…

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by Lainie Friedman Ross, MD, PhD

On November 9, 2020, the bioethics community lost one of its pioneering and iconic figures, and I lost a mentor and friend.

I first met Bob in person in June 1991 when I participated in the Intensive Bioethics Program at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University. Our meeting was not coincidental:  I had called and requested to be in his small group weeks before the course began.  Having no prior coursework in philosophy, I had matriculated into Yale University’s Department of Philosophy in September 1989, inspired by Paul Ramsey’s undergraduate course in Christian Ethics and his book, The Patient as Person (Yale University Press, 1970).

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Dear AJOB & Readers, 

I am writing to highlight a serious situation facing the academic Prof. Vojin Rakić  (personal websiteInstitutional website) who is currently undergoing a terrible time with the Serbian government. Vojin aired political disagreements in the public sphere of the government’s handling of the pandemic and, in return, they have been attacking his career, character and defaming his private life and his family too. We, the undersigned, are organising the below open letter to be signed by academics and scientists from around the world to defend Vojin and call for these personal attacks to stop.

We would very much appreciate it if you would join us in signing this open letter (your agreement, name and affiliation is all we need; please feel free to add your job title – optional).…

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