“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference. “ –Robert Frost

Vaccine shortages and prioritisation

The growing concerns of vaccine shortage in major cities of Pakistan has entailed organisational issues, and difficult choices in establishing priorities for the administration of the vaccine. However, we have the evidence that every full dose of vaccine can prevent a new infection, a new admission to hospital or to intensive care unit, and can make the difference between life and death. For now, covid-19 vaccine is a limited resource, potentially life-saving, deserving of ethical reflection in the allocation according to the best criterion of justice. For example, do we vaccinate older people first, to save more lives, or younger people first to save more years of life? First those who work with young children in schools, or other education sector staff who can teach remotely? Do we protect first those who are employed in a front-line activity, or people with disabilities? What about prisoners? The list can be extended indefinitely. It is necessary that governments clearly indicate the categories prioritised for receiving the vaccine first, with the awareness that many other people, many other categories will stay in line for months, continuing risking exposure, if they are not among the first recipients. The prioritisation must be based on epidemiological data describing a year of pandemic, clearly highlighting the most affected. The selection criteria can never be derived by privileged relationship of specific categories or individuals with the decision makers. In other words, it is urgent to combine a general and a specific approach, proceeding in parallel: on the one hand, vaccinating older people, since they are the ones most at risk, without further differentiation. On the other hand, it is necessary to give priority to those vulnerable people – because of their diseases or work obligations – that are also epidemiologically more exposed to the risk of becoming seriously ill.

Tooba Jameel,

Animal euthanasia and ethics

Dogs share the same environment of humans and play an important role in their ecological adjustment. Since its domestication 12,000 to 15,000 years ago, they have been part of human evolution with increases on its population as humans settle down. Dogs provide social and health benefits to humans but they may also be involved in social conflicts such as bites, etc. As consequence, euthanasia is employed as part of the strategy to overcome the surplus of this species and put down dangerous dogs. However, ethical issues arise when healthy dogs are killed. Recently, two healthy pet dogs were euthanised for the negligence of their owner. Many people argued in favour of the decision of court while others were in opposition of the decision. While I believe that no dog is born bad or dangerous. For the pet dogs, it’s the owner that shapes their personality, as studies suggest that pets often mirror the behaviour of their owners. And as for the street dogs, it’s the general human population that induces that fear in them by means of acting violent with the dogs and stoning them and as a result, such dogs use aggression as a defense mechanism. But sadly, this method of euthanasia is used worldwide. Unfortunately, this method is also used in controlling dog population. In general, society strongly opposes to euthanasia and condemns governments that employ this strategy as a means of dog population control. Killing a healthy animal must have legal consequences and must be considered a crime. Euthanasia is only a temporal remedy to cure the symptoms rather than causes of the problem of overpopulation, and the dangerous dog behaviour and should be the last resource to use at the end of a long process of evaluation.

Rimsha Naveed,