Minnesota public health agency prioritized non-white residents in monoclonal antibody rationing
The Minnesota State Department of Health has adopted new ethical standards that include taking a person’s skin color into account when determining who can receive potentially life-saving treatment for Covid-19 patients.
The problem is the allocation of monoclonal antibodies, which have been in high demand and in limited supply after being found to be effective in helping to prevent Covid-19 diseases from becoming serious. Antibodies created in the lab help the patient’s immune system fight disease.
Minnesota revised “Ethical framework” for rationing medical care was released late last week, noting that “Race and ethnicity alone, apart from other underlying health issues, may be taken into account in determining eligibility” for monoclonal antibody (mAbs) therapies. The department cited a finding by the United States Food and Drug Administration that race and ethnicity may put Covid-19 patients at high risk of progressing to serious illness.
The data on this risk provide the “Ethical justification” to prioritize non-white patients, depending on the setting. The policy does not reflect “Moral judgments on the relative social worth of particular groups or arguments on remedies for historical injustices related to race, ethnicity or disability status” said the ministry.
The state uses a scoring system to determine the level of priority a patient should receive in determining eligibility for mAbs. Non-white racial status is worth two points in the system, with the same weight given to categories such as a patient 65 or older or 55 or older with cardiovascular disease.
The policy means that if a white patient and a black patient are both 70 years old and have cardiovascular disease, the white person would get a screening score of four and the black person would get six points (assuming neither has other pre-existing conditions). which deserve special attention).
Depending on the severity of the mAb shortages, these scores could make the difference between the patient receiving treatment. The state advised healthcare providers to remove the priority of patients with low screening scores and raise the eligibility bar “As the shortage worsens”.