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The COVID-19 Pandemic: Ethical Challenges and Considerations

Title: The COVID-19 Pandemic Collection
Sub-title: Ethical Challenges and Considerations
Subject Classification: COVID-19, Society and Culture, Medicine and Medical Ethics, Legal
BIC Classification: MJCJ, JF, MBP
BISAC Classification: MED028000, MED003000, MED078000
Binding: Hardback, Paperback, ebook, pp. 376
Publication date: 27th September 2022
ISBN (Hardback): 978-1-871891-79-9
ISBN (Paperback): 978-1-80441-254-1
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-871891-80-5


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The COVID-19 Pandemic will likely be seen as having had a profound effect on how we live and work, as well its economic and health repercussions. But it also brought ethical issues and challenges into focus,  from ‘Fake News’ to issues of individual freedom.

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Ethical Challenges and Considerations addresses issues including the right to vaccinate, and the right to refuse vaccination; the responsibilities of government in a pandemic; the individual or collective locus of moral agency; the moral responsibility of the media in a pandemic; the ethical, moral and practical lessons from COVID 19.

This is a companion book to Ethical Implications of COVID-19 Management: Evaluating the Aftershock, also published by Ethics International Press.


Editors: Dr Eleftheria Egel is a scholar, business mentor for female entrepreneurs and startup founder. Her scholarly research focuses on female leadership & entrepreneurship, sustainability, and spiritual leadership. Her vision is to inspire and support positive transformative change in the way we interact by breaking down conventional barriers (assumptions); promoting new ways of thinking (holistic attributes such as compassion); and expanding the boundaries (sense-giving) of what is possible (sense-making) in our personal understanding and socio-organizational setting.

Dr Cheryl Patton serves as a PhD Dissertation Advisor and Adjunct Professor in the PhD in Organizational Leadership program at Eastern University, St. Davids, Pennsylvania, USA. Her previous career was in the healthcare sector, where she spent two decades as a medical imaging technologist in a tertiary care center. Her research interests include healthcare leadership, workplace conflict, workplace ethics, and phenomenology.


“The COVID-19 pandemic challenged more than our healthcare system, our community, our supply chains - it challenged the very foundation of the way medical research is conducted, interpreted, and presented to the public. This book highlights the key ethical challenges of the COVID era, from issues of equity in the workplace, to the dissemination of disinformation, to the challenges of vaccine distribution. If we do not learn from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are easy prey for the next virus that will emerge. Think of this book as not only a summation of lessons learned, but as preparation for the future.”

- F. Perry Wilson, MD MSCE, Associate Professor of Medicine at Yale University, USA,  and Author of "How Medicine Works and When it Doesn't"

“One may say that the pandemic has been like a giant Trolley Problem for a global audience. The Collection offers a unique space where  several authors take up the question whether deontic, consequentialist or utility ethics best serve action. Other authors mention Gilligan’s ‘ethics of care’, which, for this reader at least, seems like something we could do with a lot more of. In the event, public action was largely driven by politics and the kind of moral intuition that chooses quantity of good over principle – as is illustrated in several chapters.

The editors are to be congratulated and thanked for bringing together these timely and valuable essays. They would make salutary reading for the politicians who claim that the pandemic is over when it manifestly is not; that vaccines are a panacea, despite continuing excess deaths and disease; that international initiatives can be wound down because, as one UK politician says, the pandemic is a once-in-a-hundred-years event.”

- Richard Temperley-Little    Professor of Sustainability Leadership IFLAS, University of Cumbria, UK

"The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on the education of our children. While school leadership was grappling with making hard decisions to keep communities safe, parents were struggling with changing work and family dynamics. Constant bombardment from social media caused fear and confusion that disrupted the relationship between parents and school leadership. This book provides a balanced approach to understand the effects of the pandemic on our children and communities, creating a starting point for developing a plan to mitigate the social, physical, mental, and instructional effects of the pandemic."

- Lynette M. Bryan, Ph.D., Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), Binghamton, New York, USA

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty it generated across the world provide myriad opportunities to explore the ethical dilemmas faced and decisions made as a result of those challenges.  Through multiple lenses—healthcare, education, language, technology, leadership, law—the contributors to this book provide thoughtful analysis of pandemic responses and consideration of the short and long-term effects and ethical implications of decisions made.” 

- Ruthanne K. Orihuela, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Community College of Denver, USA


“For a multi-dimensional ethical assessment of the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, these volumes will prove an essential, perhaps indispensable, but certainly highly instructive source."

- Claus Dierksmeier, Professor for Globalization Ethics at the University of Tübingen, Germany 


"The COVID-19 pandemic has left the planet now polarized in terms of how to respond to infectious diseases pandemics and with a diminishing trust in public health. The pandemic required nuance and a willingness to look at the risks and benefits of each intervention, but much of that nuance was lost. This book is the definitive resource to bring back nuance to our approach to infectious diseases, through an exploration of ethics, messaging, school closures, the impact of the pandemic on health care workers, global equity, and empathy. This book, written by a variety of experts in the field, has enormous potential to heal our divisiveness around COVID and formulate a roadmap for the next pandemic and I provide it with my highest endorsement."

- Monica Gandhi, MD, Professor of Medicine/Infectious Diseases and Director of the UCSF Center for AIDS Research, University of California San Francisco, USA


“All too often, in times of crisis, ethics are thrown out the window as people strive to deal quickly with the pressures of coping with the emergency. This was all too true during the global pandemic. This book highlights the myriad ethical dilemmas it caused, and suggests ways to keep focused on doing the right things for the right reasons.”

- Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology, Kravis Leadership Institute, Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California, USA


“The COVID 19 pandemic highlighted a myriad of ethical challenges in our public and professional lives, such as the tension between individual rights and collective well-being, the proper role of science and government in society, the appropriate uses of biotechnology, and the disproportionate challenges faced by different groups, among others. But the fundamental issues here are not new; the pandemic merely forced us to confront them. This book is a much-needed exploration of these issues as we look for a ‘new normal’ in the post-COVID era, and it will help readers understand and negotiate these ethical dilemmas in a more thoughtful and productive way.”.

- Todd Weaver, Dean, College of Business & Leadership, Point University, Georgia, USA.


"The Covid pandemic of 2019-22 exposed weaknesses in our society’s ability to respond to a pandemic threat. This was true not only in terms of public health interventions, but also challenges to our national and global economy, security, and social fabric. These new and important volumes address the ethical dilemmas arising with the many and complex dimensions affected by a serious virus threat.”

- Peter Hotez, Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor, Departments of Pediatrics, Molecular Virology & Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA


“These two texts provide a comprehensive and timely account of the many different ethical dilemmas posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Ranging from a consideration of the long-term effects of on-line schooling for children to the ways in which the pandemic revealed the ugly realities of racial disparities across the globe, these texts are an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to pursue the moral questions raised by the pandemic.  Additionally, they reveal the ethical choices faced by governments, businesses, health care providers as well as individual community members both during, and in the aftermath of the novel corona virus.”

- Donna Ladkin, PhD, Professor of Inclusive Leadership, University of Birmingham, UK


These two COVID-19 volumes offer a groundbreaking look at the many ethical dilemmas associated with our current pandemic, and with important implications for those future pandemics that will inevitably follow this one.  The editors of this collection, Eleftheria Egel and Cheryl Patton, have done a remarkable job, and provided a great service, by curating these diverse writings by scholars from around the world.  In so doing, the collection provides a thought-provoking, deep dive into varied ethical considerations associated with this global challenge to human health and societal well-being.”

- Larry C. Spears, School of Leadership Studies, Gonzaga University, Spokane, USA


“The fallout from COVID-19 has had a wide-ranging impact on diverse social institutions and populations in developing and industrial nations. In many instances, we are still grappling with what its effects will mean for our shared future. This innovative collection provides thoughtful and useful pathways through the myriad ethical issues we face. It raises important questions and proposes valuable solutions while engaging and challenging readers with how best to move forward at this critical historical juncture. Its range is as expansive as the problems we face. It is essential reading for those who want to navigate through the implications of the pandemic in a more ethical, deliberate, and thoughtful way.”

- Valerie Palmer-Mehta, Ph.D., Professor of Communication & Communication Internship, and Director, Dept. of Communication, Journalism, & PR, Oakland University, California, USA


“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented enormous ethical and moral challenges.  In this collection the authors present their perspectives on these challenges.  A very thought-provoking and timely work for our time.”

- Kathryn M. Edwards M.D., Sarah H. Sell and Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair Professor of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA


"The geo-political response to COVID-19, unprecedented in the history of liberal democracies, effected families and individuals in ways of enormous complexity and range: socially, economically, morally, psychologically, bodily and educationally. This collection of scholarly essays is as wide-ranging and diverse as the consequences of the political response itself, and thus provides us with our most comprehensive and learned reflection on this most extraordinary socio-political event. This timely book is essential reading to anyone who wants to look beyond the prevailing narratives and who hopes to learn from our very recent past."

- Timothy Kelly, Fellow at Blackfriars, Oxford, United Kingdom


"The Covid-19 pandemic has opened a new era of distrust in the world. As seldom before, media, the scientific community and politicians have been overwhelmed by the crisis situation and as a result often overlooked the objectivity of facts. These conditions have thrown many into a state of disturbance and confusion, also dividing society. Who is responsible for the consequences of such a development? Who can one still trust and where do citizens get correct information? The urgency for an answer to this challenge is more important than ever before. This book is an answer to that need. It asks ethical questions, strengthens a critical perspective and encourages independent thinking."

- Bernhard Dolna, Academic Dean at Katholische Hochschule ITI, Trumau, Austria


“The COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty it generated across the world provide myriad opportunities to explore the ethical dilemmas faced and decisions made as a result of those challenges.  Through multiple lenses - healthcare, education, language, technology, leadership, law - the contributors to this book provide thoughtful analysis of pandemic responses and consideration of the short and long-term effects and ethical implications of decisions made.”   

- Ruthanne K. Orihuela, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Community College of Denver

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