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AWS commits $20m to coronavirus fight

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) has committed $20 million to the fight against the coronavirus.

This is one of the latest efforts by the tech community, including some of its heavyweights, to do whatever is possible to eradicate or slow the spread of the virus – or at the very least, manage it more effectively.

AWS has launched the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative, which aims at accelerating COVID-19 diagnostics, research and testing.

The programme is open to accredited research institutions, research consortia, and private entities that are AWS customers. 

Teresa Carlson, VP of worldwide public sector at AWS, says better diagnostics will help accelerate treatment and containment, and in time, shorten the course of the pandemic.

An initial $20 million has been committed over the next year to “accelerate diagnostic research, innovation and development to speed our collective understanding and detection of COVID-19 and other innovative diagnostic solutions to mitigate future infectious disease outbreaks”, Carlson says.

AWS is offering technical support and AWS promotional credits to research institutions and private entities using AWS to support research-oriented workloads for the development of point-of-care diagnostics (testing that can be done at home or at a clinic with same-day results). While the emphasis initially will be on COVID-19, AWS will also consider other infectious disease diagnostic projects.

According to Carlson, one of the reasons for focusing on diagnostics is the belief that accurate detection is the first line of attack for any effective pandemic response strategy.

In addition, AWS believes diagnostics research has historically been underfunded as most attention and funding has been directed at developing a vaccine.

An advisory group consisting of leading scientists, global health policy experts and thought leaders in the field of infectious disease diagnostics is being assembled to help set the initiative’s priorities, find innovative ways for participants to share critical research findings, and foster better dialogue between AWS customers and qualified external organisations that may be working independently to solve similar challenges.

The AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative has been launched with participation from 35 global research institutions, start-ups and businesses focused on tackling the challenge. 

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