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The global response to the recent coronavirus pandemic has revealed an ethical crisis in public health. This article analyses key pandemic public health policies in light of widely accepted ethical principles: the need for evidence, the least restrictive/harmful alternative, proportionality, equity, reciprocity, due legal process, and transparency. Many policies would be considered unacceptable according to pre-pandemic norms of public health ethics. There are thus significant opportunities to develop more ethical responses to future pandemics. This paper serves as the introduction to this Special Issue of Monash Bioethics Review and provides background for the other articles in this collection.

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Journal article


Monash Bioeth Rev

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