The Covid-19 pandemic put the views of bioethicists on the allocation of scarce health care resources to the test. We consider positions taken by medical organizations and national ethics councils in Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden. In several statements from these bodies, the concept of human dignity plays a central role. We argue that the use of this concept does not stand up to ethical scrutiny, and instead defend the view that decisions on the allocation of scarce resources should be guided by the goal of maximizing the net benefits to those affected. We conclude by asking whether the fact that, in some regions, after vaccination became widely available, the scarcity of hospital beds was largely caused by members of the community choosing not to be vaccinated against the virus that causes Covid-19 should play a role in allocating resources to unvaccinated people who subsequently became ill from that virus.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- health care
- human dignity
- scarce resources