Download the full August 2020 EACME Newsletter
Editorial G. Birchley
News from the EACME Bureau R. Porz
Are Covid-19 immunity passports like drivers’ licenses? A critical view C. Wiesemann
COVID-19 and Medical Ethics in England R. Huxtable
COVID-19 outbreak and privacy: old challenges and new landscapes A. Gabbin and L. Caenazzo
Disablism In a Time of Pandemic: Some things don’t change A. Krenger
Decision making in the context of the corona .. pandemic and the disability perspective K. Grüber
Some personal experiences of treating 11 COVID-19 patients L. Balsiger and R. Porz
Covid-19 and Italian prisons: the straw that broke the camel’s back G. D’Angiolella, P. Tozzo and L. Caenazzo
Public health information and communication barriers during the Covid-19 pandemic M. Schmidt, A.Werner, L. Finkbeiner and C. Wiesemann
Course report: “Genetic engineering – Crispr wonder weapon or devil’s tool” A. Krenger
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It is with great pleasure I present to you the August edition of the EACME newsletter. Within its pages you will find the usual collection of book reviews, reports and articles, but in this special issue the editor and bureau have chosen to have a special focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. This had arrived with force in most of Europe at the time of the last newsletter, in April. It is now August and, a level of control has been established over the spread of the virus in Western Europe, in many cases by enforcing strict lockdowns on the movement of the population. Control has been marked by, in most countries, residual levels of transmission with intermittent spikes in infection. In some countries this has been counted in handfuls of new cases, while in others, hundreds of new cases are recorded each day. The situation remains in balance, and it appears the virus will be with us for some time.
We will all have developed insights and understandings from reflecting on our own experiences of lockdown so far in the pandemic. For some, who have lost love ones, the impact will be profound. For others lockdown will have given too much or too little social isolation, as the normal benefits and separations of work and home life have been broken down: to this extent, many of us will have experienced different lockdowns, yet all will be reminded that we are at heart creatures who are vulnerable to changes in our social environment as much as to our own states of mind. This, then, is a change in perspective wrought on (at least some) academic medical ethics by the pandemic, where the prior focus on micro-interactions between individuals draws back to reveal the panorama of interconnectedness and mutual vulnerability. Historians of philosophy tell us that past societal traumas have in the past ushered in profound changes in the directions of theory: the US philosopher and jurist Jeremy Waldron has argued that the wake of the 18th and 19th century revolutions of Europe caused the abandonment of the enlightenment focus upon individual rights, ushering in the focus on the life of society as a whole. This led to the work of Marx, Durkheim and Weber. Waldron argues that it was only tectonic impact of the events of the Second World War that caused policy makers and theoreticians to return their focus to the individual. While COVID-19 is clearly different from the French Revolution, the huge challenges of COVID-19 are only just at a beginning. A pandemic still ravages the world, while a global recession of gigantic proportions threatens to deepen the wounds already left by the savage impact of the global economic crisis. The prevailing consensus of economic and social liberalism was already teetering. Change may indeed be needed, but change can sweep aside things of value as easily as things without. We must all use our voices to ensure that the advances of the past – toleration, liberty, rationality – are defended and preserved amid whatever change follows.
As we head into this great unknown, the reports in this issue give us some insight into what the medical ethics community have been focused on in the past, and coming, months. We hear reports from centres in Switzerland, Germany, Italy and England about such pandemic related issues as the problems of lockdown on vulnerable populations such as prisoners, persons with disabilities, and migrants, tensions in national policy, impacts upon privacy and personal testimonies from the healthcare frontline. I end this editorial on a personal note: it is time for me to say goodbye as editor, a role which I have performed since taking over from Rouven Porz in Autumn 2016. The next newsletter will see Dr Caroline Brall take over as editor of the EACME newsletter. Caroline is based at the Health Ethics and Policy Lab, Department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH Zurich – I am sure you will make sure her first issue as editor of the newsletter is marked by a flurry of articles and reports of the best quality!
Dr Giles Birchley
Centre for Ethics in Medicine, University of Bristol, U.K.
Download the full August 2020 EACME Newsletter