Today, Italy has 10,149 cases of the coronavirus. [but] They lack machines to ventilate all those gasping for air.
In other words, they have scarce resources and must allocate them somehow. They follow a utilitarian ethic, a type of consequentialism:
“Informed by the principle of maximizing benefits for the largest number,” they suggest that “the allocation criteria need to guarantee that those patients with the highest chance of therapeutic success will retain access to intensive care.”
Those who are too old to have a high likelihood of recovery, or who have too low a number of “life-years” left even if they should survive, would be left to die. This sounds cruel, but the alternative, the document argues, is no better. “In case of a total saturation of resources, maintaining the criterion of ‘first come, first served’ would amount to a decision to exclude late-arriving patients from access to intensive care.”