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Grocers Step In to Speed Up Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout

The government reaches for help in vaccine distribution.
(Ken Wolter)
(Ken Wolter)
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“Federal and state officials are tapping regional and supermarket-based pharmacies to help speed up administration of Covid-19 vaccines amid a slower-than-planned rollout,” WSJ writes.

The Usual Suspects: Rite Aid, Kroger and Stop & Shop, as well as other retailers, are being “asked to step in and provide inoculations to front-line workers and other vulnerable people. While the timeline is weeks earlier than planned, companies say they hope to test and troubleshoot protocols before distributing vaccines to the masses.”

  • The U.S. is running a three-stage vaccination program, which starts with health-care workers and residents in long-term care facilities.
  • CVS and Walgreens have been “leading the efforts to vaccinate staff and residents at roughly 50,000 long-term-care facilities.”

Why It Matters: More than 17 million combined doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been shipped, but only around 5.3 million have been administered. Part of the low number is a slow reporting of data. Still, vaccine rollout has struggled, citing confusion at the state level, a lack of clarity on how doses get distributed and hesitancy among those who qualify for the first round.

  • The federal government whiffed on their goal of vaccinating 20 million people by the end of 2020. Though, the holiday season could have a role in the slow pace of vaccines and reporting delays.

What’s Next: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, “federal partnership with 19 pharmacy chains and associations to administer the vaccine at 40,000 sites would start this week, earlier than planned,” and states will decide when those kick-off. Meanwhile, companies are adding workers and mulling creative ways to speed up the timeline, such as repurposing underused spaces such as courthouses and county fairgrounds.

Justin Oh:

If you were a ROIC member and bought Albertsons ($ACI) when we added it to the Big Board, even after a big down day today, you’d be up 22% on the position. And we’re still holding it on the Big Board.

$ACI is down today on news that they are ditching in-house delivery in favor for contractors like DoorDash and Instacart. I personally don’t feel this is detrimental to the thesis and might be wise to focus on its core competencies. I also am not particularly convinced that grocery delivery will take over with a big TAM.

I believe that the vaccine distribution through grocery pharmacies will only help companies like Kroger ($KR) and Albertsons ($ACI).

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