Transcript: CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo on “Face the Nation”, November 22, 2020

The following is a record of an interview with CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo, which aired on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, November 22, 2020.

Margaret Brennan: The CVS pharmacy is one of the final places for Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes widely available. This morning, CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo joined us from Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Good morning.

Larry Merlot: Margaret in the morning. Thank you for inviting me.

Margaret Brennan: Well, I want to get your insight into what the American people can expect. We have heard from the US government and General Perna, commander of Operation Warpspeed, that the vaccine can be distributed to all 50 states within 24 hours of approval. We know that older people are more likely to receive it first. And I know your company has a contract to give those shots as weapons within the care facility. What is the time frame? How long does it take to be shot in the arm when you receive it from the US government?

MERLO: Yeah, Margaret, that’s a great question. We have been working closely with Operation Warpspeed and the CDC for several months. And, as you know, care facilities are the first to be involved in vaccination. It’s not new to us. Our pharmacists, our nursing professionals, go to skilled nursing facilities, support living facilities for several years and run seasonal flu clinics. The system is now complete. There is a process.

Margaret Brennan: Yeah.

MERLO: Directly constructed the logistics of COVID vaccine. And within the past few days, we received information that more than 25,000 long-term care facilities have selected CVS as their COVID vaccine provider. So we are in the final stages of aligning our staffing plans with our logistics plans, with Operation Warpspeed 24 hours after approval and 48 hours after these vaccines are on the road and received. We are in a facility that provides the vaccine to the arms of the most vulnerable people, the elderly.

Margaret Brennan: So what can they expect when they hear that FDA approval will be given to someone at home who now has a loved one in a nursing home? Will their loved ones be shot in the arm within 3 days?

MERLO: Yeah, we start the process. And, as you know, go to each facility where you have selected CVS. We have 3 clinics in 3 to 6 weeks.

Margaret Brennan: I see.

MERLO: But as you know, we’ll start the process within 48 hours.

Margaret Brennan: I see. You hire thousands of people to do all this work. Who actually manages the shots? Do you have these pharmacists? Are these internships? who are they?

MERLO: Yeah, they-they are pharmacists, pharmacy internships and licensed pharmacy technicians, and they are collectively-experts who administer vaccines nationwide.

Margaret Brennan: Will vaccinated CVS employees also be vaccinated first?

MERLO: Well, I’ll wait for guidance from the CDC on the various protocols for the phases and who will be the target of those phases. And you know, when it’s our turn, we’ll certainly get involved.

Margaret Brennan: I see. Did you explain to the next Biden administration what plans you know so far? And I think you’re still waiting for a lot of this information yourself, what kind of contact did you get?

MERLO: Yes, we contacted the Biden COVID Task Force. We talked about the role we have played in the fight against viruses, the role we have played in national tests, and the fact that we have now tested more than 7 million Americans with COVID. Plans we need to play an important role in vaccination, and as you know, we have 10,000 pharmacies, and about 70% of the U.S. population lives within miles of CVS pharmacies. is. But, just as importantly, we have built a mobile kiosk. The test participated in a historically poorly serviced community and gave access to the COVID test. Do the same with vaccines, and-and-

Margaret Brennan: What does that mean, is it a temporary facility?

MERLO: Yeah, think about mobile trailers. You can attach the wheels and take them to a specific location to provide test availability. It also does the same to administer the vaccine at the appropriate time when the vaccine becomes available. And, as you know, we also talked with the Biden team about our commitment to working with them in terms of working together to make healthcare more accessible and affordable.

Margaret Brennan: I see. The president-elect, the president-elect, said he did not fully support plans to distribute through commercial retailers, grocery stores and pharmacies because he believed that the poorly serviced community would be overlooked. .. Do you think there is a blind spot there?

Merlot: Margaret, not for us. As I said, 70% of the population lives within a few miles of CVS pharmacies. And, as you know, we’ve been working with state authorities today to provide tests to poorly serviced communities where CVS pharmacies may not be available.

Margaret Brennan: Okay, how much are you growing when it comes to testing demand now? I know if it is asymptomatic, I can’t take the test.

MERLO: Yeah, Margaret has come a long way since the first test site in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts in March. Currently, there are 4,300 test sites, most of which are in CVS Pharmacy drive-through locations. The demand for testing has increased significantly over the last 10 days and we continue to deploy additional test sites. Over 5,000 in the next few weeks. This includes approximately 1,000 point-of-care testing sites that use antigen testing to provide real-time results in approximately 30 minutes. Customers can also visit and enter their zip code to find the nearest test site.

Margaret Brennan: But can I come in and be tested even if I have never been in contact with a COVID-positive person and I am not ill?

Merlot: You can. And we leveraged our digital capabilities to create a seamless experience for customers to complete simple surveys. This determines the eligibility of the customer.

Margaret Brennan: Yeah.

MERLO: -As you know, make an appointment for a COVID test.

Margaret Brennan: Okay, thank you very much, Merlot. I’ll be back soon with HR McMaster, a former White House National Security Adviser.

Transcript: CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo on “Face the Nation”, November 22, 2020

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