The allocation of scarce medical treatments, such as antivirals and antibody therapies for COVID-19 patients, has important legal dimensions. This Essay examines a currently debated issue: how will courts view the consideration of characteristics shielded by equal protection law, such as race, sex, age, health, and even vaccination status, in allocation? Part II explains the application of strict scrutiny to allocation criteria that consider individual race, which have been recently debated, and concludes that such criteria are unlikely to succeed under present Supreme Court precedent. Part III analyzes the use of sex-based therapy allocation criteria, which are also in current use, and argues that they also face substantial legal obstacles, despite only being subject to intermediate scrutiny. Parts IV and V examine the use of age and health status in allocation. Part VI discusses how the nascent law on “vaccination status” discrimination might apply to therapy allocation.
Equal Protection and Scarce Therapies: The Role of Race, Sex, and Other Protected Classifications,
SMU L. Rev. F.