Amazon wrote to President Biden on Thursday to offer communications and technology assistance. Microsoft is opening its largely empty office campus as a vaccination center as part of a larger partnership with Washington state. Starbucks is assigning employees from its operations and analysis departments to help design vaccination sites, handing the workforce to the same state while still paying employees.
While some retailers and drugstore chains have been directly involved in the coronavirus vaccination rollout, what is more surprising is the number of companies that have offered help when they had little to do with it. do with health care.
What these companies have are vast national footprints, a large workforce, huge distribution warehouses and, in some cases, empty office buildings. And they have the money to spare for a public service effort that could boost both their public image and their bottom line.
“Big business can think big,” said Arthur Herman, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Washington, DC think tank. “They can afford to take a step back and reflect on their role as a social force. in their state and in the country. They also have huge supply chains and logistical connections. “
As Mr. Biden tries to reach his goal of achieving 100 million doses in 100 days, he will need all the help he can get. The president asked Congress for $ 20 billion to help fund vaccinations at stadiums, pharmacies and others. He said on Friday he had appealed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to operate up to 100 mass vaccination sites.
But the private sector could help administration efforts with data storage, appointment scheduling, delivery of supplies to clinics and hospitals, etc.
“Amazon, Google, Microsoft, these guys are consumer-facing people who can handle billions of transactions on a daily basis,” said Suketu Gandhi, a partner of Kearney, a management and consulting firm.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has included help from companies like Starbucks, Costco and Microsoft in a plan to vaccinate 45,000 residents a day.
“We are not a healthcare company,” said Kevin Johnson, chief executive of Starbucks, at a press conference announcing the partnership Monday, “but Starbucks operates 33,000 large-scale stores, serving 100 million clients per week. And we have a world-class team of human-centered design engineers working under the direction of the state, and healthcare providers like Swedish, Kaiser Permanente, and others.
The coffee chain will bring its expertise in “operational efficiency” among others, Governor Inslee said in a press release.
While the exact order of vaccinees can vary by state, most will likely prioritize medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities. If you want to understand how this decision is made, this article will help you.
Life will only return to normal when society as a whole is sufficiently protected against the coronavirus. Once countries authorize a vaccine, they will only be able to immunize a few percent of their citizens at most in the first two months. The unvaccinated majority will always remain vulnerable to infection. A growing number of coronavirus vaccines show strong protection against the disease. But it is also possible for people to spread the virus without even knowing they are infected, as they show only mild symptoms, if any. Scientists do not yet know if vaccines also block transmission of the coronavirus. So for now, even vaccinated people will have to wear masks, avoid crowds inside, etc. Once enough people are vaccinated, it will become very difficult for the coronavirus to find vulnerable people to infect. Depending on how quickly we, as a society, reach this goal, life may start to move closer to something normal by fall 2021.
Yes, but not forever. The two vaccines that will potentially be authorized this month clearly protect people against Covid-19 disease. But the clinical trials that delivered these results were not designed to determine whether vaccinated people could still spread the coronavirus without developing symptoms. It remains a possibility. We know that people naturally infected with the coronavirus can spread it without feeling a cough or other symptoms. Researchers will study this question intensely as the vaccines are rolled out. In the meantime, even vaccinated people will have to consider themselves as possible spreaders.
The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is given by injection into the arm, like other typical vaccines. The injection will be no different from any you received before. Tens of thousands of people have already received the vaccines and none of them have reported serious health problems. But some of them experienced short-lived discomfort, including aches and pains and flu-like symptoms that usually last for a day. People may need to plan a day off or school after the second shot. While these experiences are not pleasant, they are a good sign: they are the result of your own immune system encountering the vaccine and building a powerful response that will provide long-lasting immunity.
No. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use a genetic molecule to stimulate the immune system. This molecule, known as mRNA, is ultimately destroyed by the body. The mRNA is packaged in an oily bubble that can fuse with a cell, allowing the molecule to slip inside. The cell uses mRNA to make proteins from the coronavirus, which can stimulate the immune system. At any given time, each of our cells can contain hundreds of thousands of mRNA molecules, which they produce to make their own proteins. After these proteins are made, our cells shred the mRNA with special enzymes. The mRNA molecules made by our cells can only survive for a few minutes. The mRNA in vaccines is designed to resist the enzymes in the cell for a bit longer, so that the cells can produce additional viral proteins and elicit a stronger immune response. But mRNA can only last a few days at most before being destroyed.
Microsoft will open an empty building on its campus in Redmond for vaccinations in partnership with the state and healthcare providers. It is also offering its technology, building on capabilities it has already offered to the government, including artificial intelligence at the State Department of Health to help track hospitalizations and tests.
“Technology certainly plays a role in vaccine delivery, as it basically does in distributing everything around the world,” Microsoft President and General Counsel Brad Smith said at the event announcing the rollout.
Amazon hosts a pop-up vaccination clinic in Seattle on Sunday, thanks to a partnership with Virginia Mason Medical Center; they hope to vaccinate 2,000 people. The company has also offered to vaccinate its own employees in the state, many of whom it says are essential workers – an offer it also made in Tennessee.
Amazon last week told the Biden administration that it could help with “operations, information technology, and communications capabilities.” He did not tell the New York Times what the assistance would involve.
“The scale of some of these retailers is so important,” said Andrew Lipsman, an analyst at data analytics firm eMarketer. “They have never been better equipped to handle volume increases, not least because they have had to increase their operational capacity in the midst of the pandemic.”
Some companies may hope their offerings will interest them in the new administration – or the public.
“It’s great to be seen as someone helping during this crisis,” said Herman, senior researcher at the Hudson Institute.
Companies also encourage their workers to get vaccinated. Representatives for Kroger and Walmart said vaccination efforts will include their employees who are eligible to receive one.
Some retailers directly encourage their employees to get vaccinated.
JBS, the meat packaging giant, is offering a bonus of $ 100. (The industry’s working conditions make its employees particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.) Dollar General, which has 157,000 workers in around 17,000 stores, gives them four hours of pay if they get vaccinated. The Instacart grocery delivery service said it will provide an allowance of $ 25. Chobani covers up to six hours of wages so workers can get vaccinated.
“We are going to do our part to help defeat this virus that hurts so much,” said Peter McGuinness, Chobani COO. “And in doing so, it will ensure the safety of our employees.”
Approaches from other companies are sloppier than the carrot, saying they might require vaccinations. Scott Kirby, chief executive of United Airlines, which reported its biggest losses in a decade for the fourth quarter, told employees on Thursday that the carrier – and other companies – could make the coronavirus vaccine mandatory for all the workers.
Businesses whose employees are vaccinated are likely to be more attractive to customers, making them feel more secure when shopping or receiving help in stores. For some, mass vaccination can be essential in stabilizing their business.
“There is no doubt that getting their employees vaccinated will be good for business and go a long way in getting the economy back on track,” said Herman, who wrote a book on mobilizing American industry during the world War. II.
Yet achieving nationwide immunization requires what Biden has described as a “large-scale war effort,” whose success depends on coordination between business, federal agencies and a bitterly divided Washington.
“These companies have a huge, huge opportunity to help,” said Gandhi of Kearney. “Are they going to save the day? I do not know.”