Is the Covid vaccine ethical?This is the idea of ​​medical experts

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Protesters rallied in New York City on November 20, 2021 to oppose the vaccine regulations.

Stephanie Keith | Getty Images

Moral reasons

Julian Savulescu, director of the Shanghai-Guangzhou Center for Practice Ethics at Oxford University, said that the main basis for implementing compulsory measures during a pandemic is to prevent harm to others.

He said on the phone: “You have no right to shoot in the air, risking harm to others. Similarly, you can’t shoot at the new crown virus that may kill other people.”

But according to Saulescu, four ethical conditions must be met to justify compulsory policies (such as vaccine or mask injunctions).

“First, the problem must be serious, so you must have a serious emergency or a real risk of harming others. Second, you must have safe and effective interventions,” he told CNBC. “third, [the outcome] It must be better than less freedom and more restrictive measures. Finally, the degree of enforcement must be proportional to the degree of risk and the safety and effectiveness of the intervention. “

Savulescu stated that, in his view, compulsory Covid vaccination does not meet these requirements. Since immunizations are not 100% effective in reducing transmission, he said that they will not provide additional protection for others to ensure such extreme coercion.

“But there is a second way to justify coercion, which is less common, and that is when your health system fails to prevent people from getting sick,” he said. “Then you can use coercive means to prevent people from getting sick, instead of preventing them from infecting other people, but to prevent them from using limited medical resources in an emergency.”

He said this can be used to justify compulsory Covid vaccination, but only if the policy applies to people who are most likely to need hospitalization or intensive care after contracting the virus.

Vivek Cherian, a doctor at Amita Health, agrees that, ethically, the overall benefits of vaccine authorization need to outweigh the risks involved.

“The ethical dilemma, especially in the United States, is an inherent conflict between personal autonomy and freedom and public health values,” he said. “Given that if more people get vaccinated [it would] Leading to fewer deaths, the overall benefit is morally justified. “

But in the United States, Cherian said, “we will see that the possibility of universally required vaccine enforcement is almost zero.”

“This is because we currently don’t have any vaccines to use it,” he said. “What we are most likely to see are certain communities that need it, such as federal workers, the military, or individual businesses. In addition to the many other vaccines currently needed, states may eventually make it mandatory to participate in the Covid vaccine in public schools.”

Although few countries have mandatory vaccination nationwide, several countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States and France, have already mandated that healthcare workers be vaccinated against Covid.

British Health Minister Sajid Javid explicitly ruled out the possibility of extending the vaccine mission to a wider population of the country.

Al Dowie, professor of medical ethics and law at the University of Glasgow, said that mandatory vaccination is inherently non-controversial and “it depends”, noting that British doctors have been expected to be vaccinated against common infectious diseases.

He said in an email: “When the public health risks are sufficiently large, compulsory measures are morally reasonable.” “Medical care is a risky phenomenon, and there must always be residual risks. The question is, what Such a level of risk is acceptable.”

Enforcement and incentives

Although some governments have opted for aggressive enforcement measures, others have tried to increase the vaccination rate by providing individuals with incentives for immunization.

For example, Ohio’s “Vax-a-Million” lottery program allowed people to participate in a $1 million lottery after winning the lottery, which was hailed as “a huge success” by Governor Mike DeWine. New York and Maryland later launched their own lottery programs to encourage vaccination, but a later study by doctors at Boston University School of Medicine found that there was no evidence that Ohio lottery incentives promoted vaccination.

Another study found that financial rewards may help encourage immunization. A Swedish study published last month found that paying people the equivalent of $24 can increase vaccination rates by 4%. The researchers told CNBC that this is “a little extra motivation for vaccination,” not a tool to change the minds of fanatical skeptics.

During the pandemic, governments including the United States, Japan, and Hong Kong issued cheques worth between US$930 and US$1,280 to millions of citizens to maintain their economic development. Savulescu said he suspects that offering people a one-time payment of the same value will increase vaccination rates and protect the economy by preventing further lockdowns.

“The effectiveness of these interventions is unclear, and it may depend on culture, the level of motivation or coercion, the ability to execute it, etc.,” he said. “I think in general, it’s better to start with incentives, rather than go directly to coercion.”

Cherian said that although providing incentives to promote vaccination is not an unethical strategy, he is skeptical about the effectiveness of coercive and incentive strategies.

“Regardless of the consequences or motives, people who support public health are willing to be vaccinated,” he told CNBC. “Those who take a wait-and-see attitude can be incentivized. However, for people who are strongly opposed to vaccination for some reason, coercive policies may actually have the opposite effect and make these people even more distrustful of someone trying The vaccinations put pressure on them.”


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