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Reserve System Design for Allocation of Scarce Medical Resources in a Pandemic: Some Perspectives from the Field

Working Paper

Parag A. Pathak, Govind Persad, Tayfun Sönmez, and M. Utku Ünver

May 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to rationing guidelines for scarce medical resources. This paper describes the benefits of using a reserve system over a priority system in operationalizing compromises between certain ethical goals. In the last two years, more than a dozen states and local jurisdictions have adopted reserve systems in initial phases of vaccine distribution. The researchers highlight several design issues arising in some of these implementations.