Coronavirus: Uber offering 10 million free or discounted rides to vaccination sites

Officials with ride-sharing app Uber this week announced plans to provide 10 million free or discounted rides to people seeking COVID-19 vaccinations.

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The effort is aimed at ensuring that “transportation is not a barrier to getting the vaccine,” company officials said Thursday in news release.

“We hope our technology can help make the largest-ever global immunization campaign a success and deliver the benefits of the vaccine quickly, effectively and equitably,” company officials said.

As part of the initiative, Uber partnered with organizations serving communities of color, which have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The company named its initial partners as the National Urban League, the Morehouse School of Medicine and the National Action Network.

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The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network, praised Uber’s decision in a statement.

“The Covid pandemic has hit Black Americans the hardest, with a disproportionate share of cases, deaths and economic hardship,” he said. “We also know that communities of color have less reliable access to transportation, presenting another barrier to getting vaccinated. We’re looking forward to working with Uber to knock that barrier down.”

>> Related: FDA authorizes emergency use authorization for Moderna vaccine

The announcement came after health care workers nationwide got their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by American drug manufacturer Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week authorized emergency use of the drug.

On Friday, regulators issued an emergency use authorization for a second COVID-19 vaccine developed by Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna. The vaccine could be available nationwide beginning early next week.

>> Related: Over 17 million COVID-19 cases reported in US

The U.S. continues to lead the world with the most reported coronavirus infections and the highest number of deaths. As of Saturday afternoon, more than 17.5 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported nationwide, resulting in over 314,000 deaths, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University.

More than 75.9 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported globally, resulting in over 1.6 million deaths.