Rationing of medical resources is a critical issue in the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, Parag A. Pathak, Tayfun Sönmez, M. Utku Unver, M. Bumin Yenmez develop a model for rationing through a reserve system rather than the so far dominant priority point system. In a reserve system, resources are placed into multiple categories. Priorities guiding allocation of units can reflect different ethical values between these categories. A reserve system provides greater flexibility because it does not dictate a single priority order for the allocation of all units. Instead it allows to balance competing objectives. The paper also discusses several practical considerations with triage protocol design.
The proposed reserve system has been put to a test when the 40 hospitals of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recently had to ration the antiviral Rendesivir and employed the system to steer allocation.