COVID-19: Pandemic Ethics

COVID-19: Pandemic Ethics

graphic of coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to critical shortages of life-saving resources, restrictions on liberty for the protection public health, and enormous pressure to quickly produce vaccines. Our research on the ethics of the different phases of the pandemic helps develop strategies for resource allocation, infection control, and research ethics that are ethically and legally justified.

This is a selection of our key articles. A full list is available on our hot topics page Pandemic Ethics.

Douglas, T., Forsberg, L. and Pugh, J. (forthcoming), 'Compulsory medical intervention versus external constraint in pandemic control', Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol: early online 20 August 2020

Giubilini, A., Savulescu, J. and Wilkinson, D., (2020), 'COVID-19 vaccine: vaccinate the young to protect the old?', Journal of Law and the Biosciences, Vol: 7(1) [PMC7337759]

Savulescu, J. (forthcoming), 'Good Reasons to Vaccinate: Mandatory or Payment for Risk?', Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol: online first 5 November 2020

Schaefer, G,O., Tam, C., Savulescu, J. and  Voo, T. (2020) COVID-19 vaccine development: Time to consider SARS-CoV-2 challenge studies? Vaccine 2020 38,(33): 5085-5088


Brown R, Kelly D, Wilkinson D, and Savulescu J, (2020), The Scientific and Ethical Feasibility of Immunity Passports. Lancet Infectious Diseases, Online First, subscription required (preprint in Word); and Authors' Reply A public health ethic should inform policies on COVID-19 immunity passports – Authors' reply [preprint in Word to follow] (reply to Françoise Baylis, Natalie Kofler 'A public health ethic should inform policies on COVID-19 immunity passports' response to original article)

Brown R, Savulescu J, Williams B, and Wilkinson D, (2020), A Passport to Freedom? Immunity Passports for COVID-19. Journal of Medical Ethics,(46):652-659.

Fritz Z, Huxtable R, Ives J, Paton A, Slowther AM, and Wilkinson D, (2020), Ethical road map through the covid-19 pandemic. BMJ 369:m2033

Giubilini A, and Savulescu J, (2020), Exit Statement COVID-19: Ethical guidelines for the Exit Strategy. (1 October)

Pugh, J, (2020) ‘The United Kingdom’s Coronavirus Act, Deprivations of Liberty, and The Right to Liberty and Security of the Person’. Journal of Law and the Biosciences, Vol: 7(1), January-June 2020

Savulescu, J. and Cameron, J., (2020), 'Why Lock Down of the Elderly Is Not Ageist and Why Levelling Down Equality Is Wrong', Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol: 46(11): 717–721 [PMC7335694


Cameron J, Savulescu J, Wilkinson D. Is Withdrawing Treatment Really More Problematic than Withholding Treatment? Journal of Medical Ethics 2020 (Online First)

Savulescu J, Vergano M, Craxi L, Wilkinson D. An ethical algorithm for rationing life sustaining treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. British Journal of Anaesthesia 2020

Savulescu J, Cameron J, Wilkinson D. Equality or utility? Ethics and law of rationing ventilators. British Journal of Anaesthesia 2020  125 (3): 253e258

Savulescu J, Persson I, Wilkinson D. Utilitarianism and the pandemic. Bioethics 2020. 34(6):620-632

Wilkinson D. Frailty triage: is rationing intensive medical treatment on the grounds of frailty ethical? American Journal of Bioethics. 2020 (online first)


Paper on mandatory vaccination in preparation.