Google to open up its office facilities for COVID-19 vaccine clinics


Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. 

Richard Nieva/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Monday said the company will make its office facilities available for COVID-19 vaccination clinics, as tech giants aim to speed up distribution efforts in the US.

The company said it’s partnering with the health care provider One Medical for the clinics, which will be opened “as needed” at Google buildings, parking lots and open spaces. For now, Google is targeting its campuses in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the company is headquartered; Los Angeles; New York City; and Kirkland, Washington, outside of Seattle. 

Google is working with local officials and public health authorities in those cities to set up the clinics once enough doses become available, and the company said it plans to expand the sites nationally in time. 

“While there is much uncertainty still ahead, the development of multiple safe vaccines in such a short time gives us reason for hope,” Pichai wrote in a blog post. “We recognize that getting vaccines to people is a complex problem to solve, and we’re committed to doing our part.”

Google joins a growing list of tech giants offering up their largely unused real estate for help with vaccine distribution, as the majority of their employees continue to work from home. Amazon last week offered up its facilities, while asking for vaccines for workers at the company’s fulfillment centers, data centers and Whole Foods grocery stores, which Amazon owns. Microsoft also said it will open up its campus in Redmond, Washington, for vaccinations. 

The Biden administration has vowed to administer 100 million vaccine doses during the president’s first 100 days in office. The coronavirus has killed more than 418,000 Americans over the course of the pandemic.

Google on Monday also said it’s offering other services to help with the vaccination effort. The company said it will list regional information on its search and maps services, like whether a referral is required for a vaccination. Google will first display that information in Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas in “coming weeks” before adding other states to the list.

The company also said it will use artificial intelligence from its Google Cloud division to help health care providers and pharmacies with the logistics of vaccine distribution. That includes detecting changes in the temperature of vaccine doses, which must be stored in cool conditions. Google also said it’s committing more than $150 million in free ads and other investments to public health agencies and nonprofits promoting vaccine education.

Google has struggled at times with anti-vax content on its platforms. YouTube, which is owned by Google, in October banned misinformation about COVID-19 vaccinations, removing content that baselessly claims the vaccine will cause infertility or implant microchips in people’s bodies. 

Lawmakers have already put pressure on tech giants to stop the spread of misinformation concerning vaccinations more generally. In 2019, Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, wrote an open letter to Pichai urging him to fix the problem of anti-vax content on the search giant’s platforms.

Source Article