Amazon Web Services commits $20M to COVID-19 diagnostic program

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is jumping in to help curb the spread of COVID-19 with a new Diagnostic Development Initiative to support customers working on bringing better, more accurate diagnostic solutions to market. AWS has committee $20 million to the program, which aims to accelerate diagnostic research, innovation and development around COVID-19, including detection of the disease.

Specifically, AWS will provide funding in-kind credits and technical support to customers working on COVID-19 solutions. AWS, a subsidiary of Amazon, is one of the biggest cloud platforms servicing businesses, governments and individuals. The launch of the program includes participation from 35 global research institutions, startups and businesses.

Customers eligible to receive the funding will include accredited research institutions and private entities using AWS for “research-oriented workloads for the development of point-of-care diagnostics” at home or within clinics with same-day results. The emphasis of the program will be on COVID-19, although AWS will also consider projects involving other infectious diseases.

The program comes when the U.S. is still far behind other countries when it comes to testing for COVID-19. Detecting the disease will help track its progression and help inform containment decisions. According to AWS, diagnostics research “has historically been underfunded” in favor of research on vaccines. The U.S. has already begun a clinical trial to test a vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

Organizations are in need of “reliable, scalable compute power” to work on their diagnostics research, according to AWS. An outside technical advisory group of scientists, global health policy experts and thought leaders in the infectious disease diagnostics field will counsel the initiative.

“The world needs more and more private sector innovation to combat this pandemic,” Steve Davis, member of the World Health Organization's Digital Health Technical Advisory Group and a member of the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative’s technical advisory group, said in the announcement. “Amazon’s commitments and participation are very welcome, particularly since the lack of significant next-generation diagnostic tools remains a large gap in most health systems. A platform to link research, digital capabilities and new products to customers globally is an exciting venture.”