The next is a transcript of an interview with CVS Well being CEO Larry Merlo that aired Sunday, November 22, 2020, on “Face the Nation.”


MARGARET BRENNAN: CVS Pharmacy is likely one of the areas the place People will ultimately have the ability to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it turns into broadly obtainable. CVS Well being CEO Larry Merlo joins us this morning from Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Good morning.

LARRY MERLO: Morning, MARGARET. Thanks for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Properly, I might like to get your perception for the American individuals on what they’ll count on. We hear from the US authorities, from Operation Warp Pace Commander Normal Perna, {that a} vaccine will be distributed inside 24 hours of approval to all 50 states. We all know the aged are prone to be among the many first to obtain it. And I do know your organization has contracts to present these photographs within the arms inside long-term care amenities. What’s the time-frame? While you obtain it from the US authorities, how lengthy earlier than there is a shot within the arm?

MERLO: Yeah, MARGARET, it is an awesome query, and we’ve got been working carefully with Operation Warp Pace and the CDC for a number of months now. And, , our first involvement when it comes to administering the vaccine might be in long-term care amenities. That isn’t something that’s new for us. Our pharmacists, our nursing professionals, have gone to expert nursing amenities, assisted dwelling amenities for a number of years now, conducting seasonal flu clinics. So we’ve got the techniques. We now have the processes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. 

MERLO: We now have constructed the logistics immediately for the COVID vaccine. And we simply acquired data inside the previous couple of days that greater than 25,000 long-term care amenities have chosen CVS to be their COVID vaccine supplier. So, we’re within the ultimate step of matching our staffing plan to our logistics plan and, to your level, Operation Warp Pace has mentioned 24 hours after approval, these vaccines might be on the street and 48 hours after we obtain that vaccine, we’ll be in these amenities offering that vaccine into the arms of our aged, our most weak inhabitants.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, for somebody at dwelling who has a liked one inside a nursing dwelling proper now, once they hear the FDA approval occurs, what can they count on? Inside three days, their liked one will get a shot within the arm?

MERLO: Yeah, we might be beginning that course of. And, , it- it- we are going to go to every of the amenities which have chosen CVS. We might be performing three clinics over a- over a 3 to 6 week interval. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.

MERLO: However, , we might be beginning that course of, as I discussed, inside 48 hours.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. You are hiring 1000’s of individuals to do all of this work. Who’s truly administering the photographs? Are these pharmacists? Are these interns? Who’re they?

MERLO: Yeah, they- they are going to be pharmacists, together with pharmacy interns and licensed pharmacy technicians, who collectively- these would be the professionals that might be administering the vaccines all throughout the nation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And can CVS staff who’re giving the vaccine even be among the many first to obtain it themselves?

MERLO: Properly, we are going to look ahead to steerage from- from the CDC when it comes to, , the assorted protocols when it comes to the phases and who’s eligible for these phases. And, , we will definitely be concerned when it is our flip.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. Have you ever briefed the incoming Biden administration on the plans that to date? And I perceive you are saying you are still ready on quite a lot of this data your self, however what sort of contact have you ever had?

MERLO: Yeah, we’ve got reached out to the- to the Biden COVID Process Power. We have talked concerning the position that we’ve got been taking part in in preventing the virus, the position that we performed in- in- in testing all throughout the nation, the truth that we have now examined greater than seven million People for- for COVID. The plans that we’ve got to play an vital position in administering the vaccine, and the truth that, , we’ve got 10,000 pharmacies, about 70% of the U.S. inhabitants lives inside a couple of miles of a CVS pharmacy. However, , equally vital, we’ve got constructed cell kiosks the place with testing, we’ve got gone into traditionally underserved communities to, , carry entry to COVID testing. We’ll do the identical factor with the vaccine, and- and–

MARGARET BRENNAN: What does that imply, momentary amenities?

MERLO: Yeah, consider a- consider a cell trailer, that, , we will placed on wheels, and, , take it to a selected location to offer testing availability. And we’ll be doing the identical factor to manage vaccines on the acceptable time when the vaccine turns into obtainable. And, , we have additionally talked to the- to the Biden workforce about our dedication to work with them when it comes to guaranteeing that, , we work collectively to make healthcare extra accessible and extra reasonably priced.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, as a result of when the vice president- the president-elect, mentioned that he does not totally endorse the plan to make use of business retailers, grocery shops, pharmacies to distribute, as a result of he thinks underserved communities might be neglected. Do you assume there’s a blind spot there?

MERLO: MARGARET, for us, there’s not. You recognize, as I discussed, 70% of the inhabitants lives inside a couple of miles of a CVS pharmacy. And, , we’ve got labored with state officers when it comes to bringing testing to underserved communities the place we might not have a CVS pharmacy right this moment.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, how stretched are you in the case of testing demand now? I do know if I am asymptomatic, I can not get a check.

MERLO: Yeah, MARGARET, we’ve got come a great distance from that very first testing web site in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, again in March. We now have 4,300 testing websites up, most at CVS Pharmacy drive-through areas. We now have seen the demand for testing enhance considerably over the past 10 days, and we’re persevering with to roll out further testing websites. We’ll have greater than 5,000 throughout the subsequent two or three weeks, together with a few thousand point-of-care testing websites the place we’ll use the antigen check that may present real-time leads to about half-hour. And prospects can go to CVS.com, put of their zip code, and discover a testing web site that is nearest to them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But when you have not had contact with somebody who’s COVID optimistic and you are not sick your self, can I nonetheless go in and get a check?

MERLO: You’ll be able to. And we’ve got leveraged our- our digital capabilities the place we have created a seamless expertise for, , prospects to fill out a easy questionnaire and, , that may decide their eligibility to,–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

MERLO: –you know, schedule an appointment for a COVID check.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All proper, Mr. Merlo, thanks very a lot. We’ll be again in a second with former White Home Nationwide Safety Adviser H.R. McMaster.



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