Marissa Guale is like all too many Americans right now. Her husband and father of her two children, Raul, is on a ventilator in a hospital on Long Island, fighting for his life while sick with COVID-19. Raul, a 34-year-old nurse, likely caught the disease while working in a nursing home. When the National Institutes of Health announced an emergency use authorization for the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir, Marissa scrambled friends and family on Facebook to figure out how to get access for Raul, emailing hospital administrators, senators, and doctors. They pressed the Guale family’s case for a potentially lifesaving treatment on social media to anyone who would listen.
Her confusion about where and how to get access to the drug isn’t unique. All over the country, families, doctors, and hospitals are wondering how to get the drug and on what basis it’s being distributed. The Trump administration, which is in charge of allocation, hasn’t published any guidance on how it’s making decisions about the scarce supplies of the drug.
So who decides which hospitals get remdesivir? And what’s the most ethical way to prioritize access?