Partnering Strategically to Get Things DONE

While some strategic partnerships are just between two parties – companies or individuals, the U.S. government is currently spearheading a “partnership” that’s tapped thousands of companies, and millions of people – including the Happiest Place on Earth.


While most strategic partnerships are forged by corporations or individuals with the expectation of creating a profit, occasionally there are other outcomes in mind.

Right now we are living through one of the most incredible times in all of our lives.  Not just because of all of the bad things that have happened since COVID-19 first came to our shores; that I don’t need to remind you about, but because some really amazing things have happened in the last year – many of them through strategic partnerships.

Hi, I’m Mimi Grant of the ABL Organization.

For example, just yesterday I got my first COVID vaccine.  Now, if you’re thinking I must have jumped the line, because I couldn’t possibly be over 65.  Thank you, but I am.

Think about it:  A year ago most of us wouldn’t have had a clue about Messenger or mRNA.  But as of February 11th, the CDC reported that 34.7 million of us have already received at least our first dose of a Pfizer or Moderna mRNA COVID vaccine and over 11 million have had TWO shots in the arm.

For that to happen, last year the federal government – under “Operation Warp Speed” – basically had to strategically partner with a number of pharma companies, in most cases to pay for their R&D and to guarantee payment for the production of vaccines that might or might not ever attain FDA approval.

The government – and we the tax payers, basically put $10.79 billion on the bet – spreading it out among six vaccine candidates to be developed by Moderna, J&J, Novavax, and six other organizations that strategically partnered to develop three more vaccines:  Pfizer, with BioNTech; Sanofi with GlaxoSmithKline; and AstraZeneca with the University of Oxford.

Being first to be FDA-approved, as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines were, has its privileges, including on February 11th, both companies received orders for another 100 million vaccines. So together, they’ve sold the government 600 million vaccines at pre-negotiated prices for enough to inoculate everyone in the country over age 16.

But, of course, researching, developing, and making the vaccine is not enough.  The distance and complexity from the lab to the arms of 331 million Americans is huge.  And it took far more than a village to get it into my arm yesterday.

I suspect everyone who’s been vaccinated has a similar story, but mine started on the web.

The Orange County Health Care Agency contracted with CuraPatient, which developed the Othena website and app, to sign up everyone in The OC who’s old enough to qualify for COVID vaccination by phase.  While my personal experience, was – at least initially – exasperating, with daily messages that vaccines were in “very short supply,” last Tuesday night, suddenly I was able chose an upcoming day and time for my appointment.  So I chose Thursday at 10 am, since I didn’t have a Round Table that morning.

I’m pretty sure that everyone watching this vlog knows that Disneyland is in Orange County.  In fact, until last March – when it was forced to close, Disney was the County’s largest employer.

So an “overflow” Disneyland parking lot, that’s been empty for nearly a year, is now is serving as one of the County’s two Super PODs – Point of Dispensing.

Shortly after driving into the flat lot at 9:45, it was refreshing to see it packed with cars and people directing traffic – police officers, some civilians in yellow vests and others just in hoodies.

After parking, I just followed others, to the first check-in point where signs divided lanes for 10:00, 10:15 and 10:30. After walking about 200 feet, my 10:00 lane divided into “first” or “second” vaccine. Then in another 100 feet or so, our “lane” was divided into thirds, to go into our first tent.

Up until now, it had been very quiet, since all of us were masked and social-distanced, which was pretty amazing since I estimated there were well over a thousand people in the parking lot – most of us there to be vaccinated. But considering all the tents, and people directing traffic, there must have been at least 300 “working the site.”

At the first tent,  a lady checked my driver’s license and paperwork, confirming my age and appointment time and date, and waited while I said “no” to a long list of potential unpleasant previous vaccine reactions I might have had previously.

In the next tent, at station 10, my ID and paperwork was checked again, and I was given the Moderna vaccine – which I didn’t even feel, and a CDC “COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card”, with “Disney 10:15 am” written in.  When I asked WHO was administering the vaccines, she responded: nurses, student nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy techs, and paramedics – not MAs.

Next stop was our 15-minute post-vaccine waiting area, which was pretty loosely overseen, but it gave me 15 minutes to politely scan the site of the newly vaccinated coming out of all six tents.

Since Othena is “currently vaccinating Phase 1A,” ages ranged from patient-facing healthcare workers in their early 20s – one carrying her infant, to those way over 65, including those with wheel chairs and walkers.

Shortly before I drove out at 10:45, I was told that the Disney POD is now vaccinating 5000 people every day.

In all, it was a positively joyous experience. Not just the relief of being much less likely to die of COVID, but seeing how well the “village’ of strategic partners like the federal government, Moderna and the other pharma and distribution companies, OCHCA, Othena, Disney, the NFL, pharmacies, and thousands of healthcare workers and volunteers are coming together to save fellow Americans.

Truly THIS effort represents a series of strategic partnership that has been forged, not for the profit of a few, but for the long-term survival of the many.

ABL Healthcare and Technology InsightsBy Mimi Grant, President, Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Organization – Round Tables and Events for CEOs of Healthcare and Technology Companies