Pandemic justice: fairness, social inequality, and Covid-19 healthcare priority setting

Lasse Nielsen, Andreas Brøgger Albertsen

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A comprehensive understanding of the ethics of the COVID-19 pandemic priorities must be sensitive to the influence of social inequality. We distinguish between ex-ante and ex-post relevance of social inequality for COVID-19 disadvantage. Ex-ante relevance refers to the distribution of risks of exposure. Ex-post relevance refers to the effect of inequality on how patients respond to infection. In the case of COVID-19, both ex-ante and ex-post effects suggest a distribution which is sensitive to the prevalence social inequality. On this basis, we provide a generic fairness argument for the claim that welfare states ought to favour a healthcare priority scheme that gives particular weight to protecting the socially disadvantaged.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)283-287
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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