Amazon sent a letter to President Joe Biden Wednesday offering to help the White House distribute the Covid-19 vaccine, marking a sharp change from the company’s contentious relationship with former president Donald Trump as the Biden administration faces a significant challenge in ramping up the vaccine rollout.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos at the White House May 5, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip … [+]
In a letter to Biden, which was first reported by Reuters, Amazon worldwide consumer CEO Dave Clark said the company “stands ready to assist you in reaching your goal” of vaccinating 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of Biden’s presidency.
Amazon is “prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination effort,” Clark wrote, noting the company’s large scale “allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately.”
Amazon, the second-largest U.S. employer, already has plans to administer vaccines at its own facilities once vaccines are available to them, Clark noted.
Amazon’s potential partnership with Biden would be a far cry from Donald Trump’s presidency: the former president frequently attacked the company and CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.
Distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine has so far been marred by challenges and complaints of insufficient supply. A number of states have faced shortages as they’ve expanded eligibility to more residents. New York City canceled 23,000 vaccine appointments Wednesday due to an unexplained holdup in receiving a shipment of Moderna vaccines, after previously warning the city was on the verge of running out of vaccines. The governors of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota wrote to the Trump administration Friday they would be forced to cancel upcoming mass vaccination clinics if the federal government did not do more to help them secure vaccines. Amazon will follow other private companies that have stepped up to help with the vaccine distribution, including Starbucks, which will assist with Washington State’s efforts.
What To Watch For
Biden has announced an ambitious vaccination plan that includes mobilizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Guard, invoking the Defense Production Act to produce supplies like vials and syringes and setting up 100 federally-supported vaccination sites by the end of his first month in office. The federal strategy is anticipated to help the rollout go more smoothly across the country than the Trump administration’s more state-based approach, Biden allies have suggested, even as the limited vaccine supply is likely to remain a challenge until additional vaccines are approved. “We are going to see a national strategy, as opposed to a patchwork quilt” of state policies, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told Peacock Wednesday about the difference between Biden and Trump’s Covid-19 responses. “We need that desperately from the federal government, and that will help us enormously at the state level.”
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