Uber Technologies is partnering Moderna to explore ways to help support the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines. Initially, they will immediately begin working together to provide credible information on vaccine safety through Uber’s in-app messaging, but the two companies are also exploring additional options including include incorporating ride scheduling directly into the immunization appointment process.
There are also plans to integrate the vaccine providers’ systems to text reminders for citizens and enable ride bookings in advance for the first or second immunization appointments. However, for this, the companies need to loop in public health and other organizations too. While the partnership currently begins in the United States, the companies are exploring options to expand it globally in the coming months.
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Uber’s collaboration with Moderna can be seen as the ride-sharing giant’s continued efforts to build a broad coalition of organizations committed to breaking down transportation barriers in access to vaccines. On December 17, as the vaccine rollout began in the United States, Uber announced a partnership with the National Urban League, National Action Network and the Morehouse School of Medicine to offer 10 million free or discounted rides in the country to help make sure that transportation is not a barrier to getting the vaccine especially for the hardest-hit communities of color.
Uber’s competitor Lyft also announced it was partnering with health insurance giant Anthem, JP Morgan Chase and United Way among others to get 60 million low-income Americans to and from COVID-19 vaccination sites.
The sheer logistical challenge
Notwithstanding the massive misinformation campaign that the vaccination campaign is facing on social media, the initial distribution and administration is likely to be a logistical nightmare since the exercise requires clear planning for massive manufacturing, supply chain and logistics, prioritization of populations and tracking progress. These issues must be supported by good quality data, delivered in real-time or near real-time through interoperable systems.
Other than safe and full-proof transportation, one of the very big challenges would be to get people to come for the shots. And since this is a time-bound two-shot vaccine, the follow-up appointments are also equally critical.
In this background, Uber’s wide and huge database could be ideal platform to not only reach out to people with a positive messaging, but also could be an ideal platform in the longer run to bring people into the vaccine network.
There are more than 75 million Uber riders across the world but its main market remains the United States with services in over 300 cities.