COVID-19 and the Ethics of Scarce Resource Planning

Part of our webcast series, "SNF Agora Conversations: The Politics and Policy of COVID-19"

Webcast recording

The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented strains on health systems around the world, most critically shortages in life-saving medical equipment, ICU and hospital beds, and blood products, as well as protective equipment for first responders and frontline health care workers. These shortages have resulted in the need for triage decisions previously experienced in developed countries only during wartime, and raising daunting ethical challenges. This panel will discuss the ethics of scarce resource allocation, public input on how to prioritize members of communities, and the nearly real-time work being carried out in hospitals across the U.S. and the globe to create ethically acceptable allocation frameworks and implementation plans for deciding, quite literally, who will live and who will die.


  • Ruth Faden, Berman Institute Founder and Philip Franklin Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics at Johns Hopkins
  • Allen Kachalia, Senior Vice President for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • Jeffrey Kahn, Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

About SNF Agora Conversations: The Politics and Policy of COVID-19

As coronavirus spreads across the country and around the globe, we are facing a crisis not just in healthcare, but also in how we live, work, learn, engage, and come together to govern ourselves as citizens and in communities.

How do the politics of the pandemic shape the way individual, communities, and institutions respond? Likewise, how does institutional and governmental response to the pandemic shape people’s political views and behaviors? Do people trust what their governments are telling them? Why are some countries controlling the spread of the virus better than others? In the U.S., how will this affect the 2020 elections? And how do we practice social distancing and also protect and promote civic engagement and inclusive discourse?

SNF Agora Institute will host a series of webcast conversations, with experts from Johns Hopkins University and beyond, that will explore the political and policy implications of COVID-19.