Amazon offered to aid President Joe Biden with coronavirus vaccine distribution, but former federal officials claim that the company never extended this same assistance to the Trump administration.
Just after Biden was sworn in as the 46th president, Amazon announced that the company was "ready to assist" with the new administration's goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of his presidency.
Amazon's worldwide consumer business CEO Dave Clark penned the letter to Biden on Wednesday, promising that the company is "prepared to leverage our operations, information technology and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts."
"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," Clark wrote.
However, two senior Trump administration officials told Fox Business that Amazon never proposed assistance to the Trump administration with vaccine distribution. Amazon did communicate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but the sources alleged that no letter or formal offer was made.
Meanwhile, former Operation Warp Speed officials told Fox Business that an Amazon offer may not have been necessary to apply since the Trump administration was not employing federal rollout of the vaccines in the massive undertaking, instead leaving distribution up to the states.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to provide an on-the-record explanation to Fox Business for why the colossal operations network did not suggest similar assistance to the Trump administration. The company had even touted its qualifications to Biden as the "nation's second largest employer" with over 800,000 employees across the United States.
Amazon did tell Fox Business that the company has been in contact with federal government officials over the last nine months about the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An Amazon representative pointed to Clark's letter dated Dec. 16 sent to the CDC advisory board on immunization practices regarding coronavirus vaccine distribution. Clark's memo also did not contain any offer of assistance.
"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 the committee's chairman Dr. Jose Romero.
On Dec. 11, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the first emergency use authorization of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna's vaccine was approved on Dec. 18. One month after both vaccines started distribution, over 17,500,000 Americans have received the first dose so far, the CDC cites.
Biden has vowed to ramp up the federal government’s involvement in the vaccination process. On Thursday, he stated he would use his executive powers to invoke the Defense Production Act to prioritize the manufacturing of masks and supplies needed to administer the vaccines. Similarly, the Trump administration also had moved to invoke the federal law to expand the production of ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) earlier in the pandemic.