Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccines Under Limited Supply

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

Research output: Working paper


Problem definition: This paper considers how to allocate COVID-19 vaccines to different age groups when limited vaccines are available over time. Academic/practical relevance: Vaccine is one of the most effective interventions to contain the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, the initial supply of the COVID-19 vaccine will be limited. An urgent problem for the government is to determine who to get the first dose of the future COVID-19 vaccine. Methodology: We use epidemic data from New York City to calibrate an age-structured SAPHIRE model that captures the disease dynamics within and across various age groups. The model and data allow us to derive effective static and dynamic vaccine allocation policies minimizing the number of confirmed cases or the numbers of deaths. Results: The optimal static policies achieve a much smaller number of confirmed cases and deaths compared to other static benchmark policies including the pro rata policy. Dynamic allocation policies, including various versions of the myopic policy, significantly improve on static policies. Managerial implications: For static policies, our numerical study shows that prioritizing the older groups is beneficial to reduce deaths while prioritizing younger groups is beneficial to avert infections. For dynamic policies, the older groups should be vaccinated at early days and then switch to younger groups. Our analysis provides insights on how to allocate vaccines to the various age groups, which is tightly connected to the decision-maker's objective.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Number of pages37
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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