Practical Philosophy Seminar: Aksel Sterri
"Is it wrong to offer risky vaccines? Assessing the Nordic policy of excluding AstraZeneca and Janssen"
Aksel Sterri, Foto: Dagbladet
Abstract: In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway excluded AstraZeneca- and Janssen-vaccines from the vaccination program. In this paper, I examine the core normative justification behind this decision. I argue the decision is grounded in a principle of Do no harm, which states that the health authorities should not offer healthcare that is individually harmful. I suggest two plausible ways to ground the principle, in a general obligation to prevent self-harm and a fiduciary duty between health authorities and people receiving care. Although both groundings are plausible candidates, they fail to justify exclusion over giving people freedom to choose between risky and safe vaccines. In the last part of the paper, I show that the principle is self-defeating and leads to counter-intuitive conclusions.