Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 17 (4):823-827 (2020)

Authors
Verina Wild
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented challenges to public health decision-making. Specifically, the lack of evidence and the urgency with which a response is called for, raise the ethical challenge of assessing how much evidence is required for the justification of interventions in response to the various threats we face. Here we discuss the intervention of introducing technology that aims to trace and alert contacts of infected persons—contact tracing technology. Determining whether such an intervention is proportional is complicated by complex trade-offs and feedback loops. We suggest that the resulting uncertainties necessitate a precautionary approach. On the one hand, precautionary reasons support CT technology as a means to contribute to the prevention of harms caused by alternative interventions, or COVID-19 itself. On the other hand, however, both the extent to which such technology itself present risks of serious harm, as well as its effectiveness, remain unclear. We therefore argue that a precautionary approach should put reversibility of CT technology at the forefront. We outline several practical implications.
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DOI 10.1007/s11673-020-10004-z
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