At its meeting on November 6, 2014, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) began its consideration of the complex ethical landscape of U.S. public health emergency response to the Ebola virus disease (EVD). The Bioethics Commission is currently considering three areas of specific ethical concern: U.S. public policies that restrict association or movement; the ethics of placebo-controlled trials in the context of public health emergencies; and the ethical considerations relevant to collecting, storing, and sharing biospecimens during a public health emergency.
Before making any recommendations, the Bioethics Commission would like to consult with the broadest possible range of individuals and groups. The Commission is therefore interested in receiving comments from individuals, groups, and professional communities regarding the three areas of ethical concern outlined above in the context of public health emergency response generally and the EVD epidemic specifically, including:
• Ethical and scientific standards for public health emergency response;
• Ethical and scientific standards that guide the use of quarantine or other movement restrictions during public health emergencies;
• The impact of quarantine or other movement restrictions on the availability or willingness of health workers to volunteer to contain the epidemic in disease-affected areas;
• The impact of quarantine or other movement restrictions on public fear and anxiety about potential threats to public health;
• How U.S. public policy and public health response to the current EVD epidemic might or should affect public attitudes to, and further U.S. policy and public health response to, other current and future public health issues and emergencies;
• Ethical and scientific standards for placebo-controlled trials during public health emergencies;
• Ethical and scientific standards for collection, storage, and international sharing of biospecimens and associated data during public health emergencies.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.