Rationing Safe and Effective COVID-19 Vaccines: Allocating to States Proportionate to Population May Undermine Commitments to Mitigating Health Disparities

26 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2020

See all articles by Harald Schmidt

Harald Schmidt

University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine

Parag A. Pathak

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Michelle A. Williams

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Tayfun Sonmez

Boston College - Department of Economics

M. Utku Ünver

Boston College, Department of Economics

Lawrence O. Gostin

Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law

Date Written: November 12, 2020

Abstract

A central goal in the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s (NASEM) framework for equitable COVID-19 vaccine allocation is to mitigate existing inequities, particularly those affecting economically worse-off racial and ethnic minorities. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) likewise notes that equity demands to “reduce, rather than increase, health disparities in each phase of vaccine distribution”. A crucial question in this regard is how vaccines should be distributed to states. The default is to allocate proportionate to population size. However, this approach risks increasing scarcity for worse-off populations in states where they represent above-average shares. To avoid lower odds of receiving a vaccine for worse-off groups, more vaccines could be given to states with larger shares of worse-off populations, and fewer to ones with smaller shares. We show here the consequences of allocating by these two different approaches.

Suggested Citation

Schmidt, Harald and Pathak, Parag A. and Williams, Michelle A. and Sonmez, Tayfun Oguz and Unver, Utku and Gostin, Lawrence O., Rationing Safe and Effective COVID-19 Vaccines: Allocating to States Proportionate to Population May Undermine Commitments to Mitigating Health Disparities (November 12, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3729069 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3729069

Harald Schmidt

University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine ( email )

423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Parag A. Pathak

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
E52-391
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Michelle A. Williams

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health ( email )

677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02115
United States

Tayfun Oguz Sonmez

Boston College - Department of Economics ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

Utku Unver (Contact Author)

Boston College, Department of Economics ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States
6175640771 (Phone)
+1 (617) 552 2318 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www2.bc.edu/~unver

Lawrence O. Gostin

Georgetown University - Law Center - O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202-662-9038 (Phone)
202-662-9055 (Fax)

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