31 January, 12:00 noon: Fairly Allocating Ventilators, Vaccines, and Other Scarce Resources
One hallmark of pandemics is the inability to meet the public’s massive needs for effective, timely health care. In Covid-19, difficult questions have emerged regarding equitable access to hospitals and to intensive care and the equitable allocation of particular technologies such as ventilators and vaccines. Medical need, focused on risks of severe illness or death, is one important criterion, as is the probability of a positive outcome (medical utility). But fairness and equity also demand attention, since racial and ethnic biases may infect judgments of medical utility and people of color have experienced significantly higher rates of Covid-19 infection, hospitalization, and death. If structural injustices cause or exacerbate these disparities, is it possible to mitigate these health inequities in the allocation and distribution of therapies and vaccines? This seminar examines debates about the implications of ethical principles and values for allocating and distributing scarce therapeutic and preventive measures.