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Covid-19: Ethics and Privacy Considerations in Austria’s Response


The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted global public health and innovation and revealed varied national response methods across Europe. Most recently, in light of the rising Covid-19 case numbers and increased efforts in vaccination programmes, the Austrian government has imposed a full national lockdown and is the first European country to make the Covid-19 vaccination a legal requirement. The current lockdown is set to last a maximum of twenty days while the vaccination law will take effect in February 2022. This follows the announcement of a lockdown exclusive to the unvaccinated drawing a clear line between those and citizens who received their vaccination.

Like many pandemic policy decisions, these actions raise questions about emergency powers and the risk of violating human rights law in doing so. What are the ethical and privacy concerns that should be considered in this case? Ethics is concerned with moral issues, values and principles, as well as normative practices that are recognized in the daily life of individuals. For instance, the principle of autonomy relates to an individuals’ ability to make decisions on their own, while dignity is defined as being worthy of respect in virtue of being human.

Within the PANDEM-2 project, the extent to which governments have an obligation to care for their most vulnerable residents and how much an individual’s autonomy can be curtailed even for their own good or the overall wellbeing of society remain crucial considerations in the project’s work.

Read more on the latest measures in Austria here

Read the full blog post from project partner Trilateral Research on Ethics and Privacy Considerations here.