Amazon offered the Biden administration vaccine distribution assistance with its vast trove of nationwide resources moments after President Joe Biden was sworn into office on Wednesday. Amazon, the company said, was “ready to assist” with the new president’s goal to vaccinate 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of the new administration.
“We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts,” Amazon’s CEO for worldwide consumer business Dave Clark wrote. “Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19.”
+ For those asking if similar offer was extended to President Trump… I asked. Amazon rep said company was in touch with CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and Dept. of Health and Human Services last month. But no mention of a direct letter to President Trump.
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) January 20, 2021
While on the surface, it’s a commendable gesture to be sure, it’s a delayed one, with no good explanation from Amazon as to why the company waited, more than a month after two vaccines had been cleared by the FDA for emergency use, to offer help until right after Biden took office. Meanwhile, states and cities remained locked down with government officials citing a raging virus to justify draconian measures, declaring livelihoods built on small businesses to be “nonessential,” while corporations such as Amazon thrive in the elite-driven pandemic.
Amazon refused to provide an on-the-record answer to The Federalist about whether the company had given the Trump administration the same offer it gave Biden Wednesday, though Trump officials told Fox News that the previous White House, which conducted the historic Operation Warp Speed, was given no such letter proposing assistance.
Amazon did tell The Federalist the company had been in contact with Operation Warp Speed and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but offered few details and did not say the company had extended a helping hand to facilitate public vaccination efforts. One letter addressed to the CDC, dated Dec. 16, requested that the government prioritize essential workers in its vaccination guidelines to give protection to its own employees.
“We request that [the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices] continue to prioritize these essential workers who cannot work from home, like those working at Amazon fulfillment centers, AWS data centers and Whole Foods Market stores,” Clark wrote to ACIP Chairman Dr. Jose R. Romero, according to Fox News.
The FDA granted emergency use authorization to Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 11. and approved Moderna’s on Dec. 18, each more than a month before Inauguration Day this week.
The five-to-six-week delay in offering resources when such assistance was available, as vaccination implementation struggled at the state level, likely came at a cost of thousands of lives as viral cases reached new heights in the new year, all while lockdowns enriched the coffers of the corporate tech giants profiting handsomely from the pandemic. The optics of the delay, without any substantive explanation for it, make it appear guided by animus toward Trump and is reminiscent of the Pfizer announcement of its vaccine efficacy days after the November election. Biden was informed of the vaccine’s effectiveness before officials in the Trump administration, who learned of it through the media.
The Trump administration devoted its resources primarily to vaccine development through Operation Warp Speed, successfully landing two reliable vaccines by the year’s end. Vaccination, however, has been left up to the states, a decision that now-President Biden has declared a mistake. He is moving to federalize vaccination efforts, aiming to give 100 million Americans immunity by the end of his first 100 days in office, which comes at the end of April.
Dr. Joel Zinberg, a senior fellow at the libertarian-leaning Conservative Enterprise Institute who worked on pandemic preparation in the Trump White House between 2017 and 2019, said Biden’s goal was overly ambitious and cited the federal government’s inexperience in providing direct health care. The federal government, Zinberg noted, isn’t known for providing the most competent health care directly, as highlighted by recent problems at Veterans Affairs services.
“This is going to have to be done from scratch,” Zinberg said of the entire operation from facilities to logistics. “So the prospect of this occuring in the next 100 days I think is pretty slim.”
Amazon’s decision to provide access to its vast nationwide resources, however, provides a point of optimism that Biden’s aspirational goals might be possible with the private-sector help not afforded from the same company to his Republican predecessor.