Karen Lynch, the chief executive of CVS Health, spoke to The New York Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin at the DealBook DC Policy Project about corporate America’s role in distributing the coronavirus vaccine, among other public health-related issues.
Highlights from the discussion:
“There’s more to health care now,” Ms. Lynch said. “There’s not only the physical places of care. There’s now virtual care. There’s more specialists that we interact with. There’s complexity in diagnosis. There’s more treatments.” That’s why, she said, there is “all the more reason that we have to think about helping people navigate this maze that we all live in today.”
CVS will be offering the Covid-19 vaccine in 17 states by the end of the week, she said. “We are getting about a half a million doses a week right now, and we expect that to ramp up over time,” she added. “We expect to see increases in supply increase dramatically from April to May, we expect to see another hundred million from May to June, probably another 200 to 300 million doses. So as that supply increases, you will see more and more stores open up across the country. We have the capacity with our 10,000 stores across the U.S. to do 20 to 25 million shots per month.”
“I think masks are with us for at least until 2022, until we get everyone vaccinated,” Ms. Lynch said. “We still don’t know when people are vaccinated if they are carrying the virus, which is why the C.D.C. is still recommending that people wear masks. So I think masks will be with us for a while.”
On whether to require that employees be vaccinated, she said: “We have had a lot of debates in our company. And I think it’s a company-by-company response. I think that a lot of companies are thinking about the incentives and incentivizing people, their employees, to get vaccinated. We have done a lot of work on this. We found that 85 percent of our employees want to get vaccinated.”
“As we think about the business going forward, there will continue to be vaccinations required for Covid,” she said. “There will likely be an additional booster shot next year.”
CVS has conducted more than 15 million coronavirus tests in the United States to date. “I do see this as a continuation of a health care need,” she said. “As you think about the future of health care, as viruses emerge, people will want to test and see what’s going on. And they will be looking for avenues to do that. So I think testing will continue to evolve. But it’s here to stay.”
“We are very focused on connecting the head to the body,” Ms. Lynch said. “The pandemic has put a spotlight on the importance of mental health. We have seen more suicides. We have seen an increase in depression. We have seen an increase in anxiety. We have seen an increase in prescription drugs for behavioral health. So all across the board, I called it early on the pandemic this was going to be the second wave. We clearly have seen it. I think the implications on mental health from this pandemic are in their infancy. I don’t even think we know what the long-term impacts are.”
On the second day of the DealBook DC Policy Project, we will hear from more policymakers and business leaders about the challenges for the coronavirus vaccine rollout, the future of financial regulation and the outlook for bipartisanship in polarized times.
Here is the lineup (all times Eastern):
12:30 P.M. – 1 P.M.
Karen Lynch of CVS Health on the vaccine rollout
Karen Lynch took over CVS Health this month as the pharmacy chain takes center stage in efforts to fight the pandemic. It is working with the government to distribute the coronavirus vaccine in its stores, as well as in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. To aid in those efforts, the company hired 15,000 employees at the end of last year, staffing up to deal with what President Biden has called “gigantic” logistical hurdles to the vaccine rollout.
2:30 P.M. – 3 P.M.
Vlad Tenev of Robinhood and Jay Clayton, former S.E.C. chairman, on the markets
At the center of the recent meme-stock frenzy was the online brokerage firm Robinhood, which has attracted millions of users with commission-free trades but drew outrage among its users when it halted trading in GameStop and other stocks at the height of the mania.
Vlad Tenev, Robinhood’s chief executive, is fresh from facing hours of hostile questioning at a congressional hearing last week about his company’s business practices. Joining him to discuss what regulators should now do — if anything — is Jay Clayton, the veteran Wall Street lawyer who led the Securities and Exchange Commission during the Trump administration. From the beginning of his tenure, Mr. Clayton said that his mission was protecting “the long-term interests of the Main Street investor.”
5:30 P.M. – 6 P.M.
Senator Mitt Romney on finding common ground
Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, crossed party lines to vote to convict President Donald J. Trump on articles of impeachment, twice. He is also drafting a bill with Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, that would raise the minimum wage while forbidding businesses to hire undocumented immigrants. This is typical of Mr. Romney’s approach, speaking to concerns on both sides of the aisle in an era of stark partisan divisions.
On the first day of the DealBook DC Policy Project, top policymakers and business leaders discussed the path to economic recovery, the dangers of Big Tech, the future of travel, the point of stimulus and more.
Janet Yellen: “I think we have more fiscal space than we used to.”
The Treasury secretary opened the event with a wide-ranging discussion about her priorities, including on whether the government has room to borrow even more to help bolster the economic recovery via stimulus spending.
Letitia James: “These big tech companies stifle competition, innovation, creativity.”
The New York state attorney general, spoke about several of the cases that her office is pursuing against powerful business interests. “The federal government under the previous administration was absent in a lot of areas, and particularly in the area of antitrust,” she said.
Ed Bastian: “The pent-up need and urge and desire to travel is like never before.”
The chief executive of Delta Air Lines said that travel would rebound, eventually, because “people want to experience life.” But international flights will be the last to recover, he said, as countries remain “very, very careful about letting anyone into their borders.”
Steve Ballmer: “There’s something fishy about spending $2 trillion and only getting $800 billion back.”
The former chief of Microsoft founded a nonprofit organization called USAFacts to collect and organize data about the country in an accessible way. Crunching the numbers, he questioned the efficacy of some stimulus programs and suggested other ways the money might be better spent.