Ethical issues in the use of mobile phone data for instantaneous contact tracing for COVID-19
The ethical implications of the use of mobile phone apps in the control of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The high proportion of pre-symptomatic transmission in COVID-19 means that standard contact tracing methods are too slow to stop the progression of infection through the population. To address this problem, many countries around the world have deployed or are developing mobile phone apps capable of supporting instantaneous contact tracing. Informed by the on-going mapping of ‘proximity events’ these apps are intended both to inform public health policy and to provide alerts to individuals who have been in contact with a person with the infection. The proposed use of mobile phone data for ‘intelligent physical distancing’ in such contexts raises a number of important ethical questions.
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Led by the World Health Organization and supported by key partners including the Fogarty International Center, Global Forum on Bioethics in Research, Global Health Network, Global Network of WHO Collaborating Centres and Wellcome, Epidemic Ethics is a global community of bioethicists building on pre-existing expertise and resources to provide real-time, trusted, contextual support to communities, policy makers, researchers, and responders in relation to the ethical issues arising out of global health emergencies, with a current focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.
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