Amazon is to begin delivering and collecting at-home coronavirus test kits, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The service will begin as a trial in Seattle, where both the retail giant and Microsoft founder's foundation are based. Amazon Care is the division of the company responsible for providing healthcare to its staff, but the at-home tests will be available to anyone in the Kings Country area of Seattle.
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Backed by the Gates Foundation and with funding from Gates Venture, the effort is part of the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN), which includes researchers who hope to learn how the virus is spreading through different demographic groups of society.
The tests will be delivered by Amazon to a wide range of people, including children and asymptomatic people who aren't showing any signs of having the coronavirus, like a persistent cough or fever. The tests will then be collected by Amazon Care for analysis.
CNBC first reported on the initiative, stating: All the couriers involved have been trained in handling medical material, and they will distribute the self-swab kits to the hoes of those who have requested them."
A similar effort is taking place in the UK, where the government is reported to have approached Amazon and other delivery and logistics firms in a bid to send test kits out to the nation. Delivery would begin with frontline healthcare workers before being expanded to the general public at a later stage.
Kristen Helton, director of Amazon Care, said: "Responding to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 crisis must be a community effort and requires support from both the private and public sectors. We are grateful to be surrounded by a strong community of public health, global health and academic leaders and are eager to leverage Amazon Care's infrastructure and logistics capabilities to support this local effort."
Similar at-home testing efforts are taking place in the San Francisco Bay Area, funded by the philanthropic and medical research groups of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.
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