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Why did Amazon wait until Biden’s inauguration to offer help with vaccine distribution?

Shortly after President Joe Biden was sworn into office Wednesday, Amazon congratulated him on his inauguration and offered their extensive resources to help the new administration in its vaccination effort.

"As you begin your work leading the country out of the COVID-19 crisis, Amazon stands ready to assist you in reaching your goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of your administration," Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon's worldwide consumer business, wrote in a letter to Biden Wednesday.

"We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts," Clark continued. "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."

Amazon's offer was welcomed by many following a sluggish rollout of the recently approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to provide an on the record explanation for why the company did not offer their assistance to the Trump administration.

Amazon did tell Fox News that the company has been in contact with U.S. government officials over the last nine months about the response to COVID-19. An Amazon spokesperson also pointed to a letter that Clark sent to a CDC advisory board on Dec. 16 about vaccine distribution.

"We request that [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, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the earliest appropriate time," Clark wrote to ACIP Chairman Dr. Jose R. Romero.

Clark's December letter did not contain any offer of assistance in distributing vaccines.

On Wednesday, Clark offered Amazon's "operations, information technology and communications capabilities and expertise" to help distribute the vaccine.

Clark also reiterated Wednesday that the "essential employees working at Amazon fulfillment centers, AWS data centers, and Whole Foods Market stores across the country who cannot work from home should receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the earliest appropriate time."

On Dec. 11, the FDA issued the first emergency use authorization of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna's vaccine was approved on Dec. 18th.

More than a month after both vaccines started being distributed, only 16,525,281 Americans have received the first dose, according to the CDC. 35,990,150 doses have been distributed so far.

Blame for the messy rollout has shifted over time. The Trump administration was heavily involved in the vaccine development process through Operation Warp Speed, but left it up to states to distribute the vaccine themselves.

"It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government," former President Trump tweeted in late December. "We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly, but gotten them to the states."

President Joe Biden has promised to ramp up the federal government's involvement in the vaccination process, saying that he'll invoke the Defense Production Act to increase the supply of vaccines, while using the National Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency to distribute them.



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