During the coronavirus pandemic the world became transfixed with the number of deaths.  Covid-19 deaths are in most countries determined by testing everyone that dies for the virus and recording the total. But, as some scientists have pointed out,  if everyone had the virus, everyone who died would test positive.  Dying with the virus is not at all the same thing as dying from the virus.

So how should we decide the cause of death?  Might it in principle be impossible to determine cause?  Do we cease to live when we stop breathing, or when the heart stops, or is the brain the key to determining life?  These questions are not only central to determining the impact of Covid-19 but are also relevant to all cases when we have a choice to make about whether to support life or not.

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