Select Page

We Could Be Vaccinating Twice as Fast. The Government Won’t Allow It.


The COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech were developed and brought to market at a blistering pace, but their distribution has been hobbled by poor planning and rigid eligibility rules. The rollout was centrally planned in a way that didn’t give local officials and health care workers enough flexibility to adjust to the realities on the ground—and to make tradeoffs between treating as many people as possible and strictly adhering to the rules.

The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that of the more than 30 million doses shipped, only about 11 million have been used. And those are mostly first doses: The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are both given as two identical shots, three and four weeks apart respectively. To ensure everyone who received the first dose is guaranteed a second one at the prescribed time, the government stockpiled one dose for every one shipped.

Alex Tabarrok, an economist at George Mason University who blogs at Marginal Revolution, has been promoting an idea called “first dose first,” which the United Kingdom recently adopted. This approach would allocate all available vaccines to be used as first doses, while pushing off second doses for weeks (or even months) until production can catch up.

“That means you can give twice as many first doses,” says Tabarrok, who consulted with the Trump administration, the World Bank, and foreign governments on optimal ways to incentivize rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine. “You can have two people who are protected at an 80 percent efficacy rate, as opposed to one person who’s protected at a 95 percent efficacy rate.”

This week, the Trump administration reversed course on stockpiling doses, announcing that all doses held in reserve would be shipped. But there are no plans to follow the U.K.’s approach of vaccinating more widely by pushing off the second dose.

Tabarrok attributes this to a failure to think in terms of tradeoffs.

“What economists are good at,” he tells Reason, “is making decisions under uncertainty and scarcity. And, it’s being hard-nosed in…thinking about probabilities, thinking about risk, expected value.”

“Economists are very good at saying, ‘let’s do the thing, which saves the most lives.'”

Produced by Isaac Reese, with production help from Paul Detrick, Ian Keyser, and Regan Taylor

Photo Credits: Paul Hennessy/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; Marijan Murat/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom; GARY I ROTHSTEIN/UPI/Newscom; GARY I ROTHSTEIN/UPI/Newscom; zumaamericastwentynine415983; zumaamericastwentynine674496; Georgi Paleykov/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom zumaamericastwentynine685966; H. Rick Bamman/ZUMA Press/Newscom; H. Rick Bamman/ZUMA Press/Newscom Healthcare workers; Johnny Louis/JL/Sipa USA/Newscom Prime Minister Boris Johnson; Stefan Rousseau/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom British man getting vaccine; Credit: Ben Birchall/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; JIM RUYMEN/UPI/Newscom; John Angelillo/UPI/Newscom; Paul Hennessy/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom; JIM RUYMEN/UPI/Newscom; Gil Cohen Magen Xinhua News Agency/Newscom; H. Rick Bamman/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Moncef Slaoui; Chris Kleponis—Pool via CNP/CNP/AdMedia/Newscom; Nils Jorgensen/i-Images / Polaris/Newscom; sfphotosfour813146, zumaamericastwentynine468936; Ron Adar / M10s / MEGA / Newscom, shealah_craighead/ZUMA Press/Newscom

This post has been republished with permission from a publicly-available RSS feed found on Reason. The views expressed by the original author(s) do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Libertarian Hub, its owners or administrators. Any images included in the original article belong to and are the sole responsibility of the original author/website. The Libertarian Hub makes no claims of ownership of any imported photos/images and shall not be held liable for any unintended copyright infringement. Submit a DCMA takedown request.

-> Click Here to Read the Original Article <-

About The Author

Isaac Reese

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Bringing together a variety of news and information from some of today’s most important libertarian thought leaders. All feeds are checked and refreshed every hour and pages auto-refresh every 15 minutes. External images are deleted after 30 days.

Time since last refresh: 0 second

Publish Your Own Article

Follow The Libertarian Hub


Support Our Work

Support the Libertarian Hub by tipping with Bitcoin!

Send BTC:

Weekly Newsletter

Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly email report of the top five most popular articles on the Libertarian Hub!

Weekly Newsletter SignupTop 5 Stories of the Week

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly email report of the top five most popular articles on the Libertarian Hub!