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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 70-76

A narrative review of the challenges, ethical frameworks, and guidelines in the setting of COVID-19 healthcare and research

1 Former MSc Research Ethics Scholar, Centre for Ethics, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Mangalore, Karnataka, India
2 Professor and Additional Faculty, Centre for Ethics, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Uma Kulkarni
Centre for Ethics, Yenepoya (Deemed to be University), Mangalore, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/picr.picr_206_21

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The coronavirus disease (COVID)-19 pandemic has ever since its outbreak been perplexing healthcare generally at all levels. There is a need to identify, analyze and address the bioethical dilemmas that have emerged during the pandemic. This paper presents a narrative review of the published literature on the ethical issues, frameworks, and guidelines in COVID-19-related healthcare and research. An electronic search was conducted on PubMed, Google Scholar, and Science Direct using the search terms “COVID- 19”[AND] ethical issues, clinical trials, resource allocation, ethical guidelines, vaccine allocation. Articles between 2019 and 2020 focusing on ethics were included and analyzed. Fifteen full-text articles in English, one workshop summary, and 5 guidelines were identified and are discussed under the following themes: global response to the pandemic, allocation of resources, conduct of clinical trials, and fair distribution of vaccines and individual patient care. Despite the global and collaborative response to guide the healthcare sector throughout the pandemic, there have been some worrying repercussions in the form of increased vulnerabilities, precarious imbalances in resources, priority settings, exclusion of individuals or groups, exhaustions of healthcare professionals, impaired individual patient care, slowing down of non-covid research as well as scientific, ethical and logistic challenges in COVID and non-COVID research. These can be ethically justifiable only considering the seriousness and urgency of the pandemic. This paper presents some tenacious challenges that must be addressed if ethical reflection is to be effectively implemented in response to this pandemic.

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