Experts spar over ethical question: Should we be paid to get COVID-19 shots?

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - A suggestion by an ethics professor at a leading UK university that governments should pay citizens to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has sparked debate over whether such incentives are ethical, or dangerous, and would boost or limit uptake. Arguing that governments should consider a 'pay for risk' approach to encourage their populations to have COVID-19 shots when they become available, Julian Savulescu, a professor at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at Oxford University, said it would allow people to make an informed choice ''Anti-vaxxers' may never be convinced to change their stance, but incentivising vaccination may persuade others who might not have done so to get the jab,' he wrote in an article in the BMJ British Medical Journal. 'The advantage of payment for risk is that people are choosing voluntarily to take it on.

Reuters November 06, 2020 06:10:10 IST
Experts spar over ethical question: Should we be paid to get COVID-19 shots?

COVID-19 shots?" src="https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/reuters/11-2020/06/2020-11-05T233757Z_1_LYNXMPEGA41YZ_RTROPTP_2_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-VACCINES-Q-A.jpg" alt="Experts spar over ethical question Should we be paid to get COVID19 shots" width="300" height="225" />

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - A suggestion by an ethics professor at a leading UK university that governments should pay citizens to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has sparked debate over whether such incentives are ethical, or dangerous, and would boost or limit uptake.

Arguing that governments should consider a "pay for risk" approach to encourage their populations to have COVID-19 shots when they become available, Julian Savulescu, a professor at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at Oxford University, said it would allow people to make an informed choice

"'Anti-vaxxers' may never be convinced to change their stance, but incentivising vaccination may persuade others who might not have done so to get the jab," he wrote in an article in the BMJ British Medical Journal.

"The advantage of payment for risk is that people are choosing voluntarily to take it on. As long as we are accurate in conveying ... the risks and benefits of a vaccine, then it is up to individuals to judge whether they are worth payment."

With scores of potential COVID-19 vaccines in development, and a few expected to be ready for regulatory approval and possible deployment as early as next month, public health authorities are considering ways of addressing varying levels of vaccine confidence and hesitancy around the world.

Preliminary results of a survey conducted in 19 countries over the three months to August showed that only about 70% of British and U.S. respondents would get a COVID-19 vaccine. That echoed findings in May of a Reuters/Ipsos poll that found a quarter of Americans had little or no interest in taking a vaccine against pandemic disease.

Savulescu noted precedents for payment for "civic duty": Blood donations are paid for in several countries, he wrote.

But other experts cautioned strongly against offering financial incentives.

"Paying people to get vaccinated would set a very dangerous precedent," said Keith Neal, an emeritus professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Nottingham University.

"Social media falsehoods would have a field day suggesting it can't be safe if you need to be paid to have it."

When it comes to routine childhood vaccines - such as those against contagious diseases like measles - the World Health Organization says that making them mandatory is one of the best ways to boost coverage rates. But policies that incentivise or make vaccinations compulsory for adults are rare.

Helen Bedford, a professor of child public health at University College London, said the idea was "ill-thought-out and potentially counter-productive".

"Apart from flu vaccine for healthcare workers there is little experience globally of mandating vaccines for adults, and even less experience of providing incentives," she said.

She said a better investment would be in encouraging uptake of COVID vaccines with "full and transparent communication".

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Eyewall of climate 'bomb' Iota brings catastrophic winds to Central America
Business

Eyewall of climate 'bomb' Iota brings catastrophic winds to Central America

By Gustavo Palencia and Ismael Lopez TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Hurricane Iota began whipping a remote coastal area of Nicaragua with catastrophic winds, storm surges and rain on Monday evening, as the region's leaders blamed climate change for destruction that is pushing millions closer to hunger. Iota was due to crash through northeastern Nicaragua's Miskito region overnight, packing maximum sustained winds of 160 miles (260 km) per hour, having reached Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the U.S

Egypt showcases scores of 2,500-year-old coffins
World

Egypt showcases scores of 2,500-year-old coffins

SAQQARA, Egypt (Reuters) - Egypt on Saturday showcased more than 100 coffins dating back 2,500 years, the latest and largest find this year in the vast burial ground of the Saqqara Necropolis.     The 26th Dynasty coffins - sealed, finely painted and well-preserved - were of a higher quality than previous finds there, said the secretary-general of the supreme council of antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, suggesting they belonged to higher ranking families.

Ukraine's health minister tests positive for COVID-19 as cases rise
World

Ukraine's health minister tests positive for COVID-19 as cases rise

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainian Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said on Saturday he had tested positive for COVID-19, shortly after announcing the country had posted a record number of new cases in a single day. "This is a war, every day the virus takes the lives of Ukrainians," Stepanov told a televised briefing at which he said 12,524 new cases had been registered in the previous 24 hours, up from the record of 11,787 a day earlier