Udo Schüklenk, Professor of Philosophy and Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics, was interviewed by the CBC, both on the radio and in print, about whether COVID patients who are unvaccinated by choice should be given less priority than others suffering serious illness.
In the CBC's story, Vardit Ravitsky, who teaches bioethics at the Université de Montreal and Harvard Medical School, puts the question this way: “If we have two patients with the same level of clinical need, same age, same context, but one is vaccinated and one isn't, could we de-prioritize the patient who is unvaccinated by choice? There is a minority of bioethicists who are becoming more accepting of this logic at this point in time”.
To defend the established principle that we ought not treat patients differently based on past behaviour that may have contributed to their condition, some argue that the willfully unvaccinated are victims of manipulation and misinformation. Schüklenk raises a dilemma for this defence: “if you're telling me that they are unable to make a sensible choice, then we should take this choice away from them. … we should not, on the one hand, give them this choice, and then not hold them accountable for it”. In other words, if people really “don’t know better”, “then this should have a consequence on the kind of choices that these people are permitted to make”. Still, Schüklenk believes in the principle that "you don't look back at what made the patient become a patient”.
In the story, Schüklenk raises a number of other important thoughts, including on the proposal for proportional allocation of resources between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, and about whether the citizens who float the bill for Canada’s medical system should have a say in triage protocol.