Roberto Dell'Oro, PhD
Nicholas Brown, PhD
Joseph Raho, PhD
Gianna McMillan, DBe
Facing Disaster: Covid-19 & Ethics of Pandemic
Dr. Dell'Oro: An Introduction
Roberto Dell’Oro studied philosophy and theology at the Catholic University of Milan (Italy), and the Hochschule für Philosophie in Munich (Germany). From 1993-1995, he was a postdoctoral fellow in bioethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University. Dr. Dell'Oro is now the director of the Bioethics Institute at Loyola Marymount University and teaches in the areas of bioethics, fundamental moral theology, and ethical theories, with a special interest in anthropological themes at the crossroad of theology and philosophy.
Dr. Dell'Oro begins his introduction with a statistical overview of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to official records, forty-five million people across the globe have been infected with over one million deaths. Given the pandemic's scale, the bioethics scholarly community rigorously reflects and engages with the various ethical issues arising from the pandemic; issues of public health policy, clinical ethics, research ethics and medical experimentation. Introducing the lecture's panelists, Dr. Dell'Oro asks, "What have we learned from this crisis?" Acknowledging the expansive global impact of the pandemic, and the realization it brings about with respect to our interdependence and fragility, Dr. Dell'Oro urges us to view the pandemic as an opportunity to denounce national self-interest, and instead strive towards a standards of ethics which promotes cooperative efforts and the balance of resources and distribution.
Dr. Brown: Health Inequity
Nicholas R. Brown is the Director of the Bioethics Minor and Clinical Faculty in the Bioethics Institute at Loyola Marymount University. He received his doctorate in Christian Ethics from the Center of Advanced Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. His work and research focuses on how philosophical and theological conceptions of justice inform political discourse on public health and the distribution of health care resources and the ethical implications of embodiment.
Dr. Brown's remarks are centered on John Rawls's egalitarian system of justice. As empirical research suggests, the color of one's skin plays a significant role in one's exposure to COVID-19 and likelihood of death. Dr. Brown argues that health should been seen as a communal and shared good. In order for a community to devise and implement a system which follows this maxim, Dr. Brown suggests that the most feasible approach is founded on principles of liberty and difference.
Dr. Raho: Physicians Duty to Treat
Joseph Raho is a clinical ethicist at the UCLA Health System Ethics Center in Los Angeles, where he also trained for his fellowship in clinical ethics (2014 - 2016). Prior to coming to L.A., Dr. Raho received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Pisa, Italy, in May 2014, concentrating in moral philosophy and bioethics.
Questions of physicians' duty to treat during pandemic become increasingly relevant as the COVID-19 outbreak intensifies. Given the high infectious rate, physicians put themselves, colleagues, and loved ones at higher risk. Dr. Raho asks whether the principle of beneficence as applied in the context of the pandemic is a matter of absolute ethical duty or rather a charitable act. Tracing back historical codes of ethics provided by the American Medical Association, it is common throughout its development that physicians have an obligation to provide urgent medical care even in the face of disaster. However, it must also be noted that the physician workforce is limited and that doctors have an obligation to address the needs of patients but also have the duty to treat future patients.
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Dr. McMillan: Research
Gianna McMillan received her Master’s Degree in Bioethics from LMU and her Doctorate from Loyola Chicago. She has served on the board of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, and is currently a Board Member for PRIM&R (Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research) and the Director of Community Engagement for the academic journal, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics. Her primary interests are consent issues in clinical research and the use of narrative as an educational tool in bioethics.
The COVID-19 pandemic spawns a multitude of issues within the field of research. Dr. McMillan states that drug development within a public health crisis faces pressure from various directions; e.g. governments, the public, stake holders, the scientific community, etc. Nevertheless, respect for persons, beneficence, and justice must be honored in the attempt to combat the virus. Information should be adequately disclosed to those who wish to participate in research. Further, Dr. McMillan argues for a single, centralized politically unaffiliated organization that would be responsible for gathering COVID-19 related data. Information could then be intelligently formulated and relayed accurately to the public with consistency and accessibility. Finally, Dr. McMillan suggests that innovative collaboration between research facilities would accelerate knowledge and best practices for addressing the COVID-19 virus.
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