Stephen Kissler: "My Health is your Health: Freedom and Responsibility in the Age of COVID-19"

Abstract: In a society that suffers from chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, we normally consider individual health to be a private good. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed this: COVID spreads, which makes your health contingent upon mine. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a sudden re-evaluation of individual health as a public good, which lies at the root of the most complex issues that have arisen during the pandemic. In this unfamiliar space, we are re-constructing our notions of liberty and responsibility, and we are re-envisioning the social structures that hold us to account. Our task is made more difficult by the pace with which technology is developing, policies are shifting, and information is spreading. In this seminar, I will highlight the technology, policy, and security challenges posed by immunity passports, digital contact tracing, genetic susceptibility testing, and enforced lockdowns. Rather than delving into the particular challenges of each, I will attempt to highlight key voices in each debate and draw points of comparison. In doing so, I hope to open a discussion about how our notions of health, disease, and the transitions between them could change in the coming years.

Bio: Stephen Kissler is a postdoctoral fellow in immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Colorado Boulder and his PhD from the University of Cambridge in Applied Mathematics. He develops mathematical models of infectious disease transmission, focusing recently on pandemic influenza and antibiotic resistant pathogens. Since January 2020 he has been developing projections of the COVID-19 pandemic and studying disparities in its impact.

This talk is part of the TCP Seminar Series, for more information about this series please visit the TCP Website

Wednesday, September 23 at 4:00pm to 5:15pm

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