Amazon offered Taoiseach help with Ireland’s vaccination rollout

Amazon offered Taoiseach help with Ireland’s vaccination rollout

Retail and cloud computing giant Amazon contacted Taoiseach Micheál Martin to offer help with Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout, Freedom of Information (FoI) records show.

Almost two months after the tech company contacted Mr Martin, the Government has not said whether it will be seeking its help.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Ireland country manager Mike Beary and Monica Arino, director of public policy for Amazon Retail UK and Ireland, wrote to Mr Martin offering the company’s “services and technology” on December 11th, 2020.

They sent a copy of the letter to Brian MacCraith of the High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination.

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The letter said AWS cloud infrastructure had been used for the HSE’s Covid-19 smartphone App and the Government website, gov.ie.

“We recognise this is a small part of Ireland’s Covid-19 response, but we are proud to play our part.”

The executives said they were keen to help as the State sought to vaccinate the population against Covid-19.

They outlined Amazon’s experience in designing distribution systems, and how the its teams have supported governments in the UK, Italy and Turkey in the rollout of testing kits and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Mr Beary and Ms Arino encouraged the Government to “reach out . . . should it suit to progress some of these solutions together”.

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Letter

A Government spokesman did not say whether or not it would engage with the offer. The letter was shared with the HSE, and an acknowledgement was issued by the task force in December.

Asked whether its offer was to provide support free of charge or not, an Amazon spokesman said: “From the very start of this crisis Amazon and AWS have offered to help the Irish Government, and governments around the world, wherever we can. In the letter we reiterated our offer of support.”

Amazon says it has waived fees for delivering Covid-19 test kits in the UK.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said Gov.ie is hosted on the public AWS cloud platform, allowing it to cope with a “huge surge in traffic”.

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Costs for 11 months of the pandemic come to €67,168 or a cost per click on the website of around €0.00057, the department said.

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