Marketplace Tech
Marketplace Tech
Jan 5, 2021
Algorithms for vaccine distribution have a weakness: the people behind them
Play • 8 min

To deal with the massive logistical problem of distributing COVID-19 vaccines, the federal government and some states are turning to private companies to create algorithms for prioritizing shipments. Some hospital systems, like George Washington in D.C. and Stanford in Palo Alto, California, created their own software systems to prioritize which health care workers get it first. In Stanford’s case, we now know the process went notoriously wrong, prioritizing doctors and administrators working remotely over residents working directly with patients every day. We wondered, is vaccine allocation a problem algorithms are meant to solve, or are officials letting algorithms take the blame for built-in inequality? Molly speaks with Karen Hao, who reported on this for the MIT Technology Review.

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