Jan 30, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Minnesota health groups today unveiled two preliminary guidance reports designed to help the state make and implement difficult decisions about allocating scare resources such as antivirals, respirators, ventilators, and vaccines during a severe influenza pandemic.
Magnan said the reports predict that in a pandemic as bad as the one in 1918, more than 30,000 Minnesotans will die. “And there will not be enough of anything we need to treat the ill,” she added.
A vital next step is to gather public feedback to ensure that the final reports reflect the shared values of Minnesotans, she said, adding that transparency and trust may help community members understand the decisions health officials may someday have to make. Today MCHCE and UMCB launched a Web portal to gather public feedback on the draft documents.
Ethical rationing guidance
In the 75-page preliminary report on making ethical rationing decisions in a pandemic, the groups assumed, for example:
A W-shaped mortality curve in which those aged 15 to 40 will join the very young and the elderly in having a high risk of death from influenza infection
Enough antivirals to treat, with a standard regimen, 21% of the state’s residents during the first wave of the pandemic
The estimated supply of N95 respirators for protecting healthcare workers will last less than 3 weeks
The pandemic vaccine will be available to only 6% of the state’s residents over the first 12 weeks, and to about 24% over a year (assuming two 15-mcg doses) (??)
Acute care centers have about 1,200 ventilators, of which 85% are currently in use
They predict that one of their recommended characteristics, age-based rationing that favors the young, will be particularly controversial and should receive broad public consideration.