Hospital employees at the Brescia hospital in Lombardy, Italy, tend to patients at a temporary emergency structure where new arrivals presenting COVID-19 symptoms were tested in March 2020. Italy’s medical system was overloaded during the early weeks of the pandemic.

Deciding on a patient’s life in a democratic context

COVID-19 and Triage

April 2021, Number 11.01

“Most countries in the wider trans-Atlantic space try to adhere to democratic values, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Regarding the latter, the right to life and the inviolability of human dignity are prominently enshrined in most of their constitutions. They form the very foundation of the moral and ethical core beliefs of the international community of liberal-minded states. As a result, the health care sectors of these countries attempt to cure all patients regardless of their backgrounds or affiliations. Doctors apply state-of-the-art medical treatments to try to cure the most serious of diseases. However, this maxim was challenged when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe and North America.

In early 2020, the Western public was not overly concerned about news of the coronavirus. That changed dramatically when COVID-19 began to spread at the end of February that year. The virus was especially virulent in Western Europe. Hot spots were Barcelona, London, Bavaria, northern Italy and the French region of Grand Est. Reports of Lombardian and Alsatian hospitals in distress began appearing in European news outlets. By mid-March, the public was shocked to learn that Italian physicians had too few ventilators to save all COVID-19 patients...”

Excerpt from Sebastian von Münchow, “COVID-19 and Triage,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 11, No. 1, 2021: 46-53.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.