Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccines Under Limited Supply

Xin Chen, Menglong Li, David Simchi-Levi, Tiancheng Zhao

Research output: Working paper


This paper considers how to allocate Covid-19 vaccines to different age groups when limited vaccines are available over time. The disease dynamics is specified by an age-structured SAPHIRE model whose parameters are estimated by the standard least square method using the epidemic data from New York City. We derive optimal static allocation policies with different objectives under different amounts of daily available vaccines, and examine several dynamic allocation heuristics including old-first policy, infection-first policy, myopic policy, death-weighted myopic policy, and two-day myopic policy. For static policies, our numerical study shows that to minimize the total deaths, it is optimal to allocate limited vaccines to the oldest group first and then the younger group if there are capacities remaining. In contrast, to minimize the total confirmed cases, the optimal static policy allocates a considerable portion of vaccines to younger groups even if the daily available vaccines are very limited. The optimal static policies achieve a much smaller number of confirmed cases and deaths compared to two benchmark policies: a uniform allocation policy that allocates available vaccines equally to each age group, and a proportional allocation policy that allocates available vaccines proportionally to the population of each age group. For dynamic allocation policies, the myopic policy and the two-day myopic policy have similar performance and significantly outperforms the other dynamic heuristics and the static policies in terms of the confirmed cases and deaths.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.Funding StatementNo external funding was received.Author DeclarationsI confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.YesThe details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:Not applicable.All necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.YesI understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).Yes I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.YesThe datasets used in this paper are available in the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Baruch College.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Number of pages26
StateIn preparation - 2020

Publication series

PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press


  • vaccine allocation
  • COVID-19
  • limited supply
  • static policy
  • dynamic policy
  • Pandemic
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

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    Chen, X., Li, M., Simchi-Levi, D., & Zhao, T. (2020). Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccines Under Limited Supply. (medRxiv). Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.