CVS Health’s Merlo outlines COVID-19 vaccine strategy on CNBC

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CVS Health’s Merlo outlines COVID-19 vaccine strategy on CNBC

By David Salazar - 12/10/2020

CVS Health president and CEO Larry Merlo took to CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday to outline the company’s plans for administering COVID-19 vaccines as they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use. 

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising that long-term care facility workers and residents be among the early rounds of vaccinations, the company, as well as Walgreens, has been planning to bring the vaccine to these facilities since October. 

“Our first involvement is going to be with the long-term care facilities,” Merlo said, noting that Operation Warp Speed officials have said the vaccine would begin shipping 24 hours after approval. “Upon our receipt of that allocation, we’ll be in those long-term care facilities in the first 24-48 hours, getting vaccines into the arms of some of our most vulnerable populations. We’ve got 10,000 of our dedicated healthcare professionals ready to go and they’re excited to be an important part of this solution.”

With regard to supply chain, Merlo expressed confidence in the company’s ability to get vaccines to patients under the temperature constraints that some of the vaccines carry. He said that roughly 1,100 CVS Pharmacy stores would serve as depots through which doses of Pfizer’s vaccine — the one with deep-freeze requirements — would pass and be distributed to other stores.

Merlo noted that the company as been working throughout the pandemic on testing, highlighting the fact that it has administered some 9 million COVID-19 tests. He also said the company has been hiring consistently throughout the pandemic, and that pharmacy hiring has been a big focus during flu season and beyond.