Google is now focusing its coronavirus efforts on vaccine distribution, with a new vaccine information and location search and a $150 million investment in vaccine education and access.
In the next few weeks patients will be able to tap into Google's search and maps to find COVID-19 vaccination locations. The program is starting in Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, with more states on the docket. The service will also give users details about the site, including whether an appointment or referral is needed.
The tech titan is also expanding its information panels on search, making the new sessions available in 40 countries. This is an expansion from its initial efforts in the U.K. in December.
Google’s other efforts are much more physical. It's teaming up with One medical and other public health authorities to create vaccination centers at its facilities, including parking lots and buildings.
The Silicon Valley giant is pouring $100 million of its ad grants into the CDC Foundation, the World Health Organization and nonprofits around the world, and $50 million into partnerships with public health agencies in underserved communities.
WHY IT MATTERS
Vaccine distributions in the U.S. are still in the early stages. According to the CDC, a little over 41 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed, and 21.8 million doses have been administered. That breaks down to roughly 18.5 million individuals receiving one dose or more and 3.2 million getting two doses.
There is still a long way to go in vaccinating the U.S. population of 328.2 million. Vaccine distribution and priority order are mostly state-by-state matters.
THE LARGER TREND
This isn’t Google’s first vaccine effort. In December the company implemented new strategies to cope with misinformation. Users in the U.K. are able to use a new search feature on the platform in order to look up COVID-19 vaccine information, as well as authorized vaccines in their area.
Starting there and rolling out across the world as vaccines get local clearance, the tool also gives users more information about the vaccines.
Google has been involved with several efforts to combat the coronavirus as well. One of the biggest moves the company made in these efforts was teaming up with Apple on an exposure notification API to help with contact-tracing efforts.
In September, it updated Google Maps to show users the prevalence of coronavirus cases in their area.