COVID-19: WCB Update

In-Person Meeting Cancelled—Moving to Virtual Platform


Updated: May 6, 2020


The new format of the virtual conference has been launched: frequently asked questions and registration rates are now posted.


Updated: March 13, 2020


With much regret, we are announcing that due to the COVID-19 pandemic the in-person meeting of the World Congress of Bioethics on the University of Pennsylvania campus has been canceled and will be moving to a virtual platform.


This Tuesday, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania prohibited any conferences and meetings from taking place on campus for an indefinite period of time due to COVID-19.  On Wednesday, in addition to existing travel bans, the U.S. administration announced that any foreign visitor who had traveled to one of the 26 countries constituting Europe’s Schengen Area would be prohibited from entering the country for at least 30 days.


As the pandemic continues to unfold, the University of Pennsylvania-based Congress planning team has two main goals. First, to minimize health impacts for participants and wider communities that could be associated with attending the conference.  Second, to adapt the conference planning as needed so we can showcase cutting edge bioethics research and further broaden the global network of people working in bioethics.


In consultation with the IAB Board of Directors and the WCB international advisory committee, we considered the possible paths to move forward.  Proceeding as planned is now impossible, and canceling would be giving up.   Therefore, we collectively decided to transition the WCB to a virtual, online-only, format.


Of course, it is clear that many of the unique benefits that come with attending a conference in person will be hard to replicate.  But we also see the challenge we are facing as a unique opportunity and believe that many core benefits of participating in the WCB can still be realized, by including a wider group of colleagues from around the globe than before.


During this time, you might have questions about how we are moving forward. A great first step is to visit the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Congress website. There you will find answers to many registration and pricing questions.


As the meeting continues to evolve, we will share our plans with you.   For now, we simply wanted to communicate that the 2020 World Congress of Bioethics will take place in a new virus-proof, carbon-friendly, and affordable way for participants.


We would also like to encourage you to participate in our brief survey to share your thoughts on features of the in-person WCB most important to maintain in a virtual format.


As you know, the conference theme is ‘Autonomy and Solidarity: Bridging the Tensions’.  Literally, when it comes to both COVID-19 and the WCB, we are all in this together.  We need to act in solidarity to enable autonomy—despite, and because of, these new circumstances.


We sincerely hope that you will help us make the 2020 World Congress a success by sharing your work and meeting global colleagues in a new format!


Vardit Ravitsky, IAB President
Jonathan Moreno, Conference Planning, Co-Chair
Harald Schmidt, Conference Planning, Co-Chair


Updated: March 3, 2020


The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has grabbed the attention of the global community. As we prepare for the World Congress of Bioethics, June 19-21 in Philadelphia, USA, we want to assure you that the University of Pennsylvania planning committee and our meeting management team are closely monitoring the virus development.


In communication with the International Association of Bioethics (IAB), we are working to finalize the schedule of events and all logistics for the meeting. We will continue to keep you fully informed with updates as we move forward.


If you are traveling abroad, please check your travel and health insurance coverage.


If you have any questions regarding COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact our team at



Prior Update: February 7, 2020


We continue to actively monitor the coronavirus developments.  The USA currently bans all foreign nationals who have been to Hubei province from entering the country. The country’s three major airlines have currently stopped all flights between the USA and China.  At this point, we cannot do anything but monitor these developments. However, we assure all colleagues with accepted abstracts who might be unable to attend the WCB in person for reasons to do with the corona virus that we will make every effort to facilitate a remote presentation and/or arrange for your poster to be displayed. Hopefully, this will not be necessary. But please know that we will try our best to minimize the impact on sharing your work and participating in the congress.



COVID-19 Resources:

World Health Organization

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

United States Center for Disease Control

United States Center for Disease Control: Travel Health Notices

US Department of State: Travel Advisories

National Institutes of Health 

City of Philadelphia Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) 

Pennsylvania Department of Health Coronavirus Resources



  • COVID-19, also referred to as ‘coronavirus,’ is a respiratory illness
  • Symptoms include: fever, cough and difficulty breathing
  • The virus can be spread via person-to-person contact
  • Travelers should strongly adhere to healthy travel practices, similar to recommendations associated with the U.S. flu season: wash hands often, cough into your elbow and sneeze into a tissue, avoid contact with people who may already be sick, etc.
  • For more information guidance, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage


Have questions regarding the Congress proceedings, travel, or the Coronavirus? Please contact Conference Management at or call +1 856-423-7222 ext. 430.