Expert Insights on COVID-19

How are decisions such as who receives COVID-19 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

Vaccine Incentives: Behavioral Economics and Ethics 

States are designing incentives, including lotteries, to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Kevin Volpp examines the behavioral economics angle, while Emily Largent and Holly Fernandez Lynch consider the ethics issues. 

“Understanding and Mitigating Health Inequities” by Risa J. Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA; Richard E. Besser, MD; and David R. Williams, PhD, MPH 

Fifty years of research on health disparities has increased understanding, yet systems of structural racism that contribute to poor health outcomes persist. This NEJM reflection calls for action.

“Minimal SARS-CoV-2 Transmission After Implementation of a Comprehensive Mitigation Strategy at a School” by Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD; Bruce H. Kraut, MD, PhD; et al. 

Kevin Volpp designed a strategy that minimizes COVID-19 transmission at a high school with both residential and commuter students in Fall 2020. 

Opinion: Age-based vaccine distribution by Emily A. Largent, JD, PhD, RN; Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD; and Govind Persad, JD, PhD 

Equity and other risk factors, rather than just age, should be considered in vaccine distribution policy, recommends this Washington Post op-ed. 

Disadvantage Indices and Equitable Vaccine Allocation by Harald Schmidt, PhD 

Disadvantage indices, Harald Schmidt explains, bring data to decisions about vaccine allocation and can help address both public health and social justice needs.  

Strategies for National COVID-19 Vaccine Promotion by Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD; George Loewenstein, PhD; Alison M. Buttenheim, PhD, MBA

This JAMA Network viewpoint recommends approaches to promoting COVID-19 vaccine uptake and explores implementation issues.

COVID-19: Transmissions, Risks, and Reopenings by Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD

Zeke Emanuel explains how COVID-19 spreads, ways to reduce risk, and safe practices for reopening schools and businesses.

COVID-19 Vaccine Emergency Use Authorization with Holly Fernandez Lynch, JD, MBe 

Ethicist Holly Fernandez Lynch discusses the regulatory issues of authorizing COVID-19 vaccines for use in this Penn Today article. 

Leadership in a Time of Uncertainty and Change with Michael Useem, PhD, and Atul Kalanuria, MD, FACP, MHCI 

Wharton’s Mike Useem draws on research to discuss the impact of decisions made by leaders during times of uncertainty and change, in this interview with MHCI alumnus Atul Kalanuria.


Additional Content

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

Ethics, COVID-19, and Caring for Children: A Panel Discussion moderated by Holly Fernandez Lynch, JD, MBe

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

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

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

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

Narrative in an Epidemic by Lance Wahlert, PhD

Queering the Quarantine by Lance Wahlert, PhD

Community Health Workers: Social First Responders  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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