Uber and Lyft May Help With Vaccine Distribution



Ride-Sharing Firms Lobby for Role

As Uber (UBER) and Lyft (LYFT) look for ways to shore up their balance sheets after being battered by the pandemic, they are in talks with President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration about helping with vaccine distribution.

Executives from Lyft met with the presidential transition team in December 2020 to talk through how the government could provide funds for vaccine-related transportation. Lyft is already a provider of nonemergency medical transportation, and the company’s healthcare arm shared its analysis of public data with Biden’s team. Lyft’s analysis showed that millions of at-risk Americans have limited transportation options and that mobility may be a barrier to effective vaccine distribution.

Meanwhile, Uber announced it would partner with Moderna (MRNA) to provide vaccine safety information to users via its ride-sharing app. Both companies have said they hope to coordinate with public health agencies to distribute vaccine reminder notifications and schedule rides for eligible US residents.

A Potential Path to Recovery for Ride-Share Companies

Ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, as their business depends on customers who travel to restaurants, social gatherings, and airports. A partnership with the incoming Biden administration to help transport people getting vaccinated could help the companies recover some of the income they have lost over the course of the pandemic.

Though the logistics of transporting people to get vaccines could prove challenging for rideshare companies, there is certainly a need for their services. Medical directors, health systems, and pharmacies have expressed concerns about the lack of available transportation to vaccine sites. In response, Lyft recently announced it would partner with JPMorgan Chase, Anthem, and United Way to deliver vaccines to low-income, high-risk, and uninsured people. Uber said it would consider partnerships with governments, foundations, medical providers, and businesses to assist with vaccine rollout.

Looking Ahead

Until Joe Biden is inaugurated as President on January 20, his administration does not have the authority to make decisions on federal funding or any other government matters. As such, the transition team has said they are in “listening mode” until that time.

But the team did say it plans to accelerate vaccine distribution when Biden takes office. Biden’s administration also plans to set up federally-run vaccination sites and vaccine deliveries to rural and underserved areas of the country. Ride-share companies could be in a position to help with both those initiatives.

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