Can we make the case for a pandemic ethic? Pandemic modeling: A case study for adopting best practices globally.

Dr Cheryl Mack1, Dr. Malgorzata  Gasperowicz2, Cameron  Cattell3

1University Of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, 2University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, 3University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Models are broadly used in many industries, such as weather forecasting, financial planning, wildfire management, and transportation. In pandemic response models are used, but they had not been necessarily central to the policy-making. Here we analyze case studies of two jurisdictions with contrasting approaches to pandemic modeling. The first one, Victoria, Australia, embraced predictive models and used them to inform their pandemic response, effectively quenching the 2nd wave, and preventing epidemic resurgence in the following months. The second one, Alberta, Canada, dismissed models as a tool and informed its policy by reactive, lagging metrics, such as hospitalizations and ICU occupancy. Alberta ended up experiencing large waves and associated deaths, hospitalizations, and economic costs.

A global pandemic requires a global strategy. In this pandemic, strategies and goals varied greatly. The global spread of this unique pathogen and the emergence of variants of concern (VOC) has readily demonstrated that there is a necessary trans-border reliance on each other. This reality raises the question of how a pandemic ethic should be understood and put into practice.

As nations, and as a global community, we could have done better. Learning from successes and failures as the pandemic progressed, to inform public health policy and strategies for mitigation, may have reduced the impact on lives and livelihoods globally. In this presentation we hope to begin to ask the important questions that should ground a global pandemic ethic.


Dr. Cheryl Mack is an anesthesiologist and pediatric palliative care physician.  An adjunct at the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre, she is the chair of clinical ethics for the University of Alberta Hospitals, past-Chair of the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society Ethics Committee, and ethics lead for the University of Alberta Office of Global Surgery.

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