Expert Insights on COVID-19

How are decisions such as who receives COVID-19 tests—or eventually vaccines—made? What is the process for approving and accessing drugs to treat COVID-19? Come to Ethics, Policy, and COVID-19 to find answers and insights from the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy. 

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Current Content

Ethics and COVID-19 by Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD

In the three-video series Ethics and COVID-19, Zeke Emanuel explores:

  • What is the coronavirus (COVID-19)? 
  • What other pandemics have occurred in the past 125 years?
  • What supplies and capacity are needed to treat those with COVID-19, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), ICU beds, and ventilators? 
  • How are decisions about who receives scarce resources made? 

COVID-19: A Primary Care Perspective with Aimee Ando, DO, MHCI and Jennifer S. Myers, MD

Jennifer Myers interviews Aimee Ando about using telemedicine in her primary care practice to address the needs of patients during the pandemic and how this might transform care in the future.

Controlling COVID-19 with Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD; Alison M. Buttenheim, PhD, MBA; Vivian Lee, MD, PhD, MBA; Christina Roberto, PhD; and Mark Smith, MD, MBA

Kevin Volpp leads a panel discussion on addressing challenges to preventing community spread, especially on college campuses, through behavioral economics.

Optimizing and Implementing Contact Tracing through Behavioral Economics by Rinad S. Beidas, PhD; Alison M. Buttenheim, PhD, MBA; Rachel Feuerstein-Simon, MPH, MPA; Austin S. Kilaru, MD; David A. Asch, MD, MBA; Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD; Hannah G. Lawman, PhD; and Carolyn C. Cannuscio, ScD 

This NEJM Catalyst article explores contract tracing, isolation, and quarantine, and how best to engage in them during COVID-19.

Reimbursing Hospitals for Covid-19 Readiness by Christian Terwiesch, PhD; Kevin B. Mahoney; and Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD 

This NEJM Catalyst article discusses surplus capacity and suggests how hospitals may be compensated for preserving it for COVID-19 patients. 

Narrative in an Epidemic by Lance Wahlert, PhD

Lance Wahlert—a scholar and faculty member in both bioethics and English—explores how to use poetry as a resource during COVID-19.  

Queering the Quarantine by Lance Wahlert, PhD

Lance Wahlert reflects on how vulnerabilities and historical legacy of the LGBTQ community may influence their experience going through COVID-19. 

Community Health Workers: Social First Responders  

How can community health workers respond to COVID-19? In this webinar excerpt, members of the Penn Center for Community Health Workers outline their current response to community needs, propose a solution that employs social first responders, and call for policy updates in order to scale nationally.

The Struggle of Dementia Patients and Caregivers by Sara Manning Peskin, MD: Allison K. Hoffman, JD; and Jason Karlawish, MD

This opinion piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer describes the challenges faced when support systems close and offers a “stay-at-home survival guide” from the Penn Memory Center. 

Research in Emergency Settings by Jill M. Baren, MD, MBE, FACEP, FAAP

How can research be conducted ethically in an emergency setting? This video explores the challenges for investigators trying to gather evidence and for potential research subjects.

Disability, Rationing, and COVID-19 by Emily Largent, JD, PhD, RN

About 1 in 4 American adults lives with some type of disability. How might their conditions influence decisions about COVID-19 care when ventilators, for example, are in great demand and short supply? Emily Largent draws on her background in ethics, nursing, and law to examine the issue and provide insights.  

Population Health and the Economy by Atheendar Venkataramani, MD, PhD, and Rachel Werner, MD, PhD

In this virtual seminar from Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI), Atheendar Venkataramani and Rachel Werner explore the likely long-term population health consequences of the coronavirus-driven economic downturn.

Behavioral Science Tips on Distancing by Harsha Thirumurthy, PhD, and Alison M. Buttenheim, PhD, MBA

How do you encourage physical distancing—or social distancing—to slow the spread of COVID-19 in areas where many individuals do not have the luxury of working from home or getting their groceries delivered? This tip sheet, produced for Ideas42 by Harsha Thirumurthy and Alison M. Buttenheim, applies behavioral science to answer that question. 

Implications of COVID-19 for the Field of Bioethics by Jonathan D. Moreno, PhD 

Bioethicist Jonathan Moreno places the COVID-19 pandemic within a timeline of the history and future of bioethics. How might the focus on bioethics change to address the demands placed on medicine and society by COVID-19? 

COVID-19: FDA Drug Regulation by Holly Fernandez Lynch, JD, MBe 

In an interview with graduate student Rachel Zacharias, Holly Fernandez Lynch examines ethical issues surrounding the approval and use of drugs to treat COVID-19.

“It’s Your Leadership Moment” from Knowledge@Wharton by Michael Useem, PhD 

“Ample research shows that leadership makes the greatest difference when the world around us is uncertain, and we are unsure about what lies ahead. We also know that the impact will be greatest when it comes not only from the apex but also from the middle ranks and front lines, writes Michael Useem in this opinion piece.”
~ From the introduction 

Other Relevant Resources

Free online continuing education courses:
Ethics and Trial Design, from Penn MEHP Online
Telemedicine and Telehealth, from Penn’s School of Nursing


Send your questions and comments to us at MEHP Online Content.