Amazon has offered to help the Biden administration meet its goal of completing 100 million coronavirus vaccinations within the next 100 days. “Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort,” Dave Clark, Amazon’s worldwide operations leader, wrote in a letter to the administration.
The company’s main interest appears to be in offering vaccinations through its own facilities. Clark writes that Amazon has “an agreement in place” with a health care provider to administer vaccinations on site, though he did not say which Amazon facilities were being considered. The company operates warehouses, Amazon-branded shops, and Whole Foods grocery stores. Clark said Amazon could “move quickly once vaccines are available.”
Amazon could also provide technology and communications resources to help the new administration, Clark said. “We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts,” Clark wrote in the letter addressed to Biden. The letter was first reported by Reuters.
Among the challenges of getting the US vaccinated is completing the “last mile” of distribution — getting the vaccines from distributors to patients. Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines need to be transported while frozen, with Pfizer’s requiring ultra-cold storage. Once they get to a facility, they need to be thawed and quickly distributed. Lately, distribution efforts in the US have been complicated by confusion over who’s eligible and fractured access to vaccine sign-ups and appointments.
Amazon, of course, has one of the most expansive distribution systems in the United States, designed to rapidly ship packages from warehouses across the country. The offer marks a stark contrast to Amazon’s relationship with the previous administration, which was strained by former President Donald Trump’s ongoing grudge against Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Trump also took a fairly hands-off approach to federal involvement in vaccine distribution, largely leaving states responsible.