COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the world. As of January 2021, the global cases have exceeded 100 million. Tech giant Google has announced that it will aid in efforts to fight the pandemic amid the highly anticipated rollout of vaccines. During the pandemic, the company has helped provide relevant information that people needed to know. In addition, it has partnered with Apple to build exposure notification technology to fight the spread of COVID-19 around the world. On January 25, the company announced further initiatives in the global fight.
$150 million to promote vaccine education and equitable access
The company announced it will be providing more than $150 million to promote vaccine education and equitable distribution. These would be provided via $100 million in ad grants for the CDC Foundation, the World Health Organization, and nonprofits around the globe. Another $50 million would be donated in partnership with public health agencies to reach underserved communities with vaccine-related content and information. To help ensure equitable access to vaccines for all segments of the population, Google.org has also committed $5 million in grants to organizations addressing racial and geographic disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations, including Morehouse School of Medicine’s Satcher Health Leadership Institute and the CDC Foundation.
Highlighting authoritative information and local vaccination sites on Search & Maps
Google noted that since the beginning of the year, searches for “vaccines near me” have increased 5x and there is a need to provide locally relevant answers. To make it easier to find locally relevant information, including when and where to get the vaccine, the company has fine-tuned its information search functions. This will be done by expanding relevant information panels on Search to more than 40 countries and dozens of languages, with more rolling out in the coming week. In the US, state and regional distribution information will be available on Search so people can easily know when they are eligible to receive a vaccine and if so, where the nearest COVID-19 vaccination location is. Details available will include whether an appointment or referral is required, if access is limited to specific groups, or if it has a drive-through. There are also plans to introduce a “Get The Facts” initiative across Google and YouTube to get authoritative information out to the public about vaccines.
Opening spaces for vaccination clinics
To help with vaccination efforts, starting in the United States, select Google facilities—such as buildings, parking lots and open space will also be made available as needed. These sites will be open to anyone eligible for the vaccine based on state and local guidelines. The program will start in selected states in the US for now, based on local vaccine availability.
Using technology to improve vaccine distribution
Google Cloud is helping healthcare organizations, retail pharmacies, logistics companies, and public sector institutions make use of innovative technologies to speed up delivery of vaccines. For example, logistics companies can tap on Google’s AI to optimize trucking operations by adapting to traffic or inclement weather, and detect temperature fluctuations during transport. Once vaccines reach their destination, Google’s tools can help facilitate pre-screening, scheduling, and follow up. For instance, their Intelligent Vaccine Impact Platform is helping states like New York and North Carolina manage distribution and forecast where vaccines, personal protective equipment, and hospital staffing will be most needed.
Google is doing its part to fight COVID-19 on a broader scale. As Google CEO Sundar Pichai noted in a blog post unveiling these measures, “The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected every community all over the world. It’s also inspired coordination between public and private sectors, and across international borders, on a remarkable scale. We can’t slow down now. Getting vaccines to billions of people won’t be easy, but it’s one of the most important problems we’ll solve in our lifetimes. Google will continue to support in whatever way we can.”