Internal Research WiP: Aksel Sterri

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Updated 5 January 2022

A global auction for vaccine distribution

We hope to be able to offer the option of joining either in-person at Littlegate House (Suite 1 Seminar Room) or online via Zoom. If we are unable to hold in-person events, the seminar will take place online only.

Abstract: The current distribution of vaccines against COVID-19 is widely perceived to be unfair. While rich countries are reaching the end of their vaccination programs, poor countries have barely received any doses. In attempting to improve upon the status quo, and ensure a better distribution of vaccines in future pandemics, ethicists like Emanuel et al. (2021) have proposed a more equal allocation of vaccines. These frameworks have utterly failed to change the practice for predictable reasons. In this paper, we join reformers in proposing a new scheme for ethical vaccine distribution: a global auction for vaccines where profits are distributed fairly to participating countries. Our proposal improves upon previous suggestions ethically by taking countries' differing valuations of money and vaccines seriously. Since an auction is in the interest of vaccine manufacturers and rich countries, it is also politically feasible. A global auction for vaccines thus promises to be a robust, stable, and ethically desirable way to allocate vaccines.

Bio: Dr Aksel Sterri (OUC Hosted Research Fellow).  Aksel Sterri’s research interests are at the intersection of ethics and economics. The focus of his post-doctoral work (funded by the Norwegian Research Council) is on ethical aspects of contagion, both in relation to infectious and non-communicable diseases. The project builds on his Ph.D. thesis in philosophy, where he examines our duties to participants in delicate market transactions. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Digital Ethics and journals such as Philosophical Studies, Journal of Medical Ethics, Journal of Applied Philosophy, and Developing World Bioethics.

This internal talk is for Oxford Uehiro Centre members and associates.

Joining via Zoom: Please email to request the Zoom links.

Booking for in-person attendance: In case we need to run at reduced capacity, please register to attend by email to so that we can track attendance numbers and keep you updated with any changes. Please also indicate if you don’t have Eduroam access.