Published: 27 March 2020
With this Ad hoc Recommendation, the German Ethics Council offers guidance in the midst of the national and global crisis triggered by the worldwide spread of the novel coronavirus in early 2020. The core ethical conflict consists of the need to sustainably safeguard a high-quality and effective healthcare system by means of measures some of which considerably restrict freedom, while at the same time minimising the resulting serious social side effects. The resolution of this conflict necessitates the fair balancing of competing moral goods which is a task for society as a whole. The Ad hoc Recommendation also offers fundamental guidance for the management of triage situations in which physicians are forced to decide which of the patients requiring intensive care would receive priority and which ones would be treated as lower priority.