Paying It Backward and Forward: Expanding Access to Convalescent Plasma Therapy Through Market Design
COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) therapy is currently a leading treatment for COVID-19. At present, there is a shortage of CCP relative to demand. We develop and analyze a model of centralized CCP allocation that incorporates both donation and distribution. In order to increase CCP supply, we introduce a mechanism that utilizes two incentive schemes, respectively based on principles of “paying it backward” and “paying it forward.” Under the first scheme, CCP donors obtain treatment vouchers that can be transferred to patients of their choosing. Under the latter scheme, patients obtain priority for CCP therapy in exchange for a future pledge to donate CCP if possible. We show that in steady-state, both principles generally increase overall treatment rates for all patients—not just those who are voucher-prioritized or pledged to donate. Our results also hold under certain conditions if a fraction of CCP is reserved for patients who participate in clinical trials. Finally, we examine the implications of pooling blood types on the efficiency and equity of CCP distribution.
Kominers gratefully acknowledges the support of National Science Foundation grant SES-1459912, as well as the Ng Fund and the Mathematics in Economics Research Fund of the Harvard Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications (CMSA). Sönmez gratefully acknowledges the research support of Goldman Sachs Gives via Dalinc Ariburnu - Goldman Sachs Faculty Research Fund. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.