eLetters

462 e-Letters

  • Not a (global) controversy

    This article addresses a critically important topic, but I would not classify it as a 'current controversy'. The UK Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) task of 'helping to promote a culture of care within the establishment and, as appropriate, the wider community' includes supporting the wellbeing of animal technologists and care staff. There is a good level of understanding that the culture of care includes caring for staff, in the belief that people who are cared for will behave more compassionately towards animals, and that science, animal welfare and staff morale will all benefit [see references in 1]. The AWERB task of 'supporting named persons, and other staff dealing with animals, on animal welfare, ethical issues and provision of appropriate training' can also be interpreted as providing emotional support and ensuring staff feel competent, capable and confident with respect to humane killing.

    Outside the UK, the European Union working document on Animal Welfare Bodies and National Committees also discusses the importance of supporting staff and ensuring mutual respect as part of a good culture of care, including encouraging scientists to work with (and value the contribution of) animal technologists and care staff [2].

    In my experience of working with AWERBs, many of these were (and are) very mindful of the emotional loading exterted on staff who had to humanely kill animals because of the pandemic [3]. The i...

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  • SEMPER ET UBIQUE MEDICUS (physician always and everywhere)

    I read with great attention and not a little emotion the short article of Clinical Ethics by SDTR [1]. The narrative and flat form fails to hide the author's strong ethical commitment. Few points, in my view, deserve a greater focus in the challenging and highly contributing considerations.
    The core of this contribution is the question: “when as a hospitalised medically qualified patient, one sees fellow patients in difficulty, or deteriorating clinically, unnoticed by medical staff, the question of whether it is ethical to intervene arises”.[1]
    The issue is complex and is very much about the mutual assistance that patients (may) give each other, as have often given each other, when confined to a hospital ward, on a desert island, in a prison, in a concentration camp, in a college. This aspect of natural solidarity, observable also in ethology in many animal species, even in captivity, can come into brutal contrast not so much with "education", which concerns cultural and social aspects of shared ethics, but more with "instruction", also intended as training and usual professional activity. Actually, impact of curricular studies of medicine on youngsters is complex, but seems to modify only some and limited aspects of previously acquired thoughts and feelings on health and disease. [2] Are there deontological appropriate rules of conduct for doctors that can be immediately contrary to elementary ethics? Regretfully yes, and without dist...

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  • I’ve got a few questions.,..,,

    Tell me now, what would the Doctors and staff do in this situation if there wasn’t a supposed Covid diagnosis?
    What is SOP ?
    Why couldn’t they just follow that procedure with any and all PPE precautions?
    I wouldn’t think they would just throw someone in that condition into a room full of equally suffering patients ?

    Do they?

    Somebody please explain this to me in Layman’s terms.

    If these questions were already answered in the article then let me know, and I’ll do a closer read, but until then.....

    Thank You

  • Mandatory Vaccination by a philosopher?

    Dear Editor,
    having scanned the article by Julian S, philosopher in Oxford no less, in your journal's edition from Nov 2020 , I feel I need to comment: The mandate to prevent harm from others requires a reasonable amount of knowledge what the risk to self is. To use a narrative extract from an autoethnographic case study as example:
    ... what those people who experienced serious reaction to the covid vaccine are believed to have reacted to is an emulsifier called PEG -
    polyethylenglycol which sounds harmless enough. I was tested for allergies comprehensively by a very thorough specialist in Ger in 1996
    and that because of a series of very light reactions. I dare to assert that in the UK where I have lived for 20 years and worked in
    multidisciplinary health settings, the first thing people would know about such an allergy would be if they suffered an anaphylactic shock.
    Prior to that most people would only/at best have been prescribed cortisone.
    I believe here enters what M. Fricker, UK philosopher in NY, calls epistemic injustice inherent in a system of health inequalities as prevalent in the UK and an approach to behaviourism in clinical practice I politely call blinkered. - So far my initial reaction to the article.
    Coincidentally I then after I found the video interview where Dr Mary Ramsey for PHE declares the safety of vaccines, I felt prompted to do a little research and - surprise, surpri...

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  • Critique of Good Reasons to Vaccinate: Mandatory or Payment for Risk?

    The author asserts that coercion to vaccinate is ethically analogous to mandatory seatbelts or the use of physical force to remove a dangerous substance from a child. This is a false analogy. Wearing seatbelts while driving or removing a dangerous toy from a child does not alter anyone’s individual constitution, but vaccines do, permanently, and with largely unknown long-term consequences. Vaccination is an intimate, deeply invasive and permanent medical procedure, not just a behavioural preference. The same flawed comparison could be used to support mandatory abortion or coercive organ harvesting if these procedures were deemed in the interest of public health: a repugnant conclusion.

    Regarding seriousness of Covid-19 as a public health issue, the author ignores the fact that Covid-19 deaths are recorded in a non-standard way which precludes meaningful assessment of the true public health impact of this disease in comparison to other respiratory infections. Acording to the WHO https://www.who.int/classifications/icd/Guidelines_Cause_of_Death_COVID-... guidelines, “A death due to COVID-19 is defined for surveillance purposes as a death resulting from a clinically compatible illness [...] COVID-19 should be recorded on the medical certificate of cause of death for ALL decedents where the disease caused, or is assumed to have caused, or contributed to death.” The Office of Nat...

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  • Placebos can still work when patients are told, honestly, that they are placebos

    This study, https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3006175, showed that the placebo effect still worked when patients were informed that they were receiving the placebo.

    If this is generally true, there is no need to move from honesty.

  • Why a selective lockdown of the elderly would be unjust: A response to Savulescu and Cameron

    On the grounds that the elderly are more likely than the non-elderly to become severely unwell, require intensive, scarce and expensive and thereby put the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed, if they catch COVID-19, Savulescu and Cameron make two dubious claims. Firstly, they say that a selective, legally compulsory, lockdown of the elderly to stem a resurgence of the pandemic could be morally justifiable. Secondly, they say that such a selective lockdown would be just. They write: ‘Ethically, selective isolation is permissible. It is not unjust discrimination. It is analogous to only screening women for breast cancer: selecting those at a higher probability of suffering from a disease.’1
    I shall focus here on a response to the latter claim. To justify a particular allocation of benefits or burdens as a just allocation is different from justifying a particular allocation – whether or not it is just – in terms of its morally desirable consequences. I do not believe that a lockdown of the elderly would be morally justified by its consequences but, whether or not it would so be, it would be unjust discrimination.
    ARISTOTLE ON DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE AND WOMEN
    Under the heading of ‘THE IDEAL OF EQUALITY AND THE CONCEPT OF UNJUST DISCRIMINATION.’, Savulescu and Cameron write:
    ‘Aristotle described the principle of equality as treating like cases alike, unless there is a morally relevant difference. For example, if men are allowed to vote, and women are not, th...

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  • Safe, effective, proportional and necessary?

    While the authors are right to conclude that any compulsory medical intervention/vaccination could only be justified if the intervention is safe, effective, proportional and necessary, the moral dilemma really only starts here.

    Who should have the right to determine what is proportional and necessary? Furthermore, the safety and efficacy in themselves will be disputed. We know this from existing vaccine controversies that lead parents to decline vaccines for their children. They do not trust the data produced by the manufacturers and they do not trust anyone who has industry funding or other potential conflicts of interest. Clearly the only reason why a parent would decline a medical intervention is because they fear that it could harm their child.

    Although a Covid19 vaccine would not mainly be aimed at children, as in routine childhood immunisations, but at everyone, the question of safety and efficacy remains and invariably determines the question of proportionality as well. In fact it will be even more difficult, due to the shorter development times, shorter trial lengths and shorter follow-ups we can expect, as well as the limited time the virus is expected to be around in sufficient parts of the population that would allow for meaningful field trials.

    Safety and efficacy have always been at the heart of the debate. We know from our work with parents at Consent (https://consent-charity.org.uk) that any...

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  • Do newly graduated medical students require a “break” from clinical responsibilities to truly be prepared to cope with the covid-19 pandemic? A response to O’Byrne et. al

    O’Byrne et. al raise the important issue of pandemic preparedness in medical students’ readiness to deal with the covid-19 pandemic. Healthcare professionals have a moral obligation to volunteer to help, however, there has been a lack of strict consideration for the preparedness and clinical competency of medical students in these circumstances. The article correctly highlights that medical students’ desire to help is insufficient alone, and there is a need for adequate medical education and training to better prepare students for any potential moral trauma and adverse risks to mental health. However, for those newly graduated students, we feel as though the need for a break from clinical activity is a concept that has been overlooked and may be imperative to true pandemic preparedness amongst this cohort.

    The majority of medical students will complete an intensive 5-year curriculum before graduating and applying to the foundation programme to continue their training, 43% of whom will have had no break from education up to this point.(1) As highlighted in the article by O’Byrne et. al, many of these students face problems with their mental wellbeing during medical school and thereon after. These problems regarding mental and emotional wellbeing are heightened in situations where students feel anxious or unprepared, such as clinical placements and rotations.(2) The importance of breaks to aid mental wellbeing are well recognised throughout the curriculum, such as tim...

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  • A Response to After-Birth Abortion: The Necessary Distinction Between Fetus and Newborn

    The article titled, “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” argues that after-birth “abortion” should be permissible in all cases where abortion is, “including cases where the newborn is not disabled.” I would like to begin by addressing the obvious oxymoron used in the expression of the authors ‘after-birth abortion’. The authors address this issue also by proposing to call the practice ‘after-birth abortion’ rather than ‘infanticide’ or ‘euthanasia’. They argue that to call it infanticide would be incorrect because the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus rather than of a child/person; to call it euthanasia would be incorrect because “the best interest of the one who dies is not necessarily the primary criterion for the choice, contrary to what happens in the case of euthanasia.” To re-iterate this second point, euthanasia is practiced with the self-interest of the individual in mind, usually to end a life of suffering, after-birth abortion, on the other hand, can be practiced even if it is only a burden to the family and the child is in full health.
    The authors define a person, in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life,’ as “an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her. This means that many non-human animals and mentally retarded human individuals are persons, but that all the individuals who are...

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