Amazon has offered to assist President Biden with distributing coronavirus vaccines in a letter sent from Dave Clark, the CEO of its worldwide consumer business, to Biden on the day of his inauguration.
NEW @NBCNews: Amazon has extended offer to President Joe Biden to assist with national Covid vaccine distribution.
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) January 20, 2021
In the letter, the company said it wants to assist not only in the onsite vaccination of its own “essential workers” at warehouses and Whole Foods Market stores but also help vaccinate the public more generally.
“Additionally, we are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts,” Clark wrote. “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.”
The letter quickly drew criticism on social media from both the left and the right, with some pointing out Amazon’s questionable record on labor practices and others questioning why the company seemed to have waited until Biden took office to offer assistance to the federal government. Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, who is also the owner of The Washington Post, were a frequent target of former President Trump’s ire, with Trump even calling Bezos “Jeff Bozo” in a tweet.
Amazon had been in touch with federal officials about the coronavirus during the Trump administration, according to the company, including discussing its virus testing program with the FDA, participating in the White House’s High Performance Computing Consortium addressing the disease, and contacting the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The company urged the CDC committee last year to prioritize vaccinating essential workers such as Amazon’s.
Biden is taking office at a critical time. The coronavirus vaccination effort has become somewhat mired in confusion, with several states reporting difficulty getting the vaccine and accurate data about dose availability from the federal government under Trump. The government missed a target of vaccinating 20 million people in the U.S. by the end of 2020. Biden has pledged 100 million doses of the vaccine would be administrated within his first 100 days in office.