Google pledges $150m to boost awareness about Covid-19 vaccine

The company will also open its offices to serve as vaccination sites

FILE PHOTO: Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during signing ceremony committing Google to help expand information technology education at El Centro College in Dallas, Texas, U.S. October 3, 2019.  REUTERS/Brandon Wade/File Photo

Google is committing more than $150 million to promote awareness about the Covid-19 vaccine and ensure its equitable distribution, the company’s chief executive Sundar Pichai said.

The search engine giant will distribute $100m in advertising grants to the CDC Foundation, the World Health Organisation and non-profits around the world. It will also invest $50m in partnership with public health agencies to reach underserved communities with vaccine-related content and information.

“We recognise that getting vaccines to people is a complex problem to solve and we are committed to doing our part,” Mr Pichai said.

CDC Foundation is an independent non-profit that gathers philanthropic and private-sector resources to support the US-based Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in its health protection work.

Google is working to make it easier to find locally relevant information, including when and where to get the vaccine, Mr Pichai said.

The tech giant is also offering its US offices, including its parking lots and open spaces, as vaccination sites.

“Our efforts will focus heavily on equitable access to vaccines. Early data in the US shows that disproportionately affected populations, especially people of colour and those in rural communities, aren’t getting access to the vaccine at the same rates as other groups,” Mr Pichai said.

Google said searches for “vaccines near me” have increased five times since the beginning of the year and it is working to provide locally relevant answers.

In the coming weeks, Covid-19 vaccination locations will be available in Google Search and Maps in the US. The company is planning to roll out this feature to more countries.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has deeply affected every community all over the world … it also inspired co-ordination between public and private sectors, and across international borders, on a remarkable scale,” said Mr Pichai.

“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 will solve in our lifetimes,” he added.

Google Cloud is also helping healthcare organisations, retail pharmacies, logistics companies and public sector institutions make use of innovative technologies to speed up the delivery of vaccines, said Mr Pichai.

For example, logistics companies are using artificial intelligence to optimise trucking operations by adapting to traffic or inclement weather and detect temperature fluctuations during transport.

EDITOR'S PICKS