AWS initiative to accelerate COVID-19 diagnostics, research

Backed by an initial investment of $20 million, the project is open to accredited research institutions and private entities using AWS to support development of point-of-care diagnostics.
By Nathan Eddy
12:02 PM

Amazon joins a growing list of global technology giants stepping up to help battle the global COVID-19 pandemic through the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative, which aims to accelerate COVID-19 diagnostics, research, and testing.

WHY IT MATTERS
The program, which is backed by an initial investment of $20 million, is open to accredited research institutions and private entities using AWS to support research-oriented workloads for the development of point-of-care diagnostics.

This type of diagnostic treatment refers to testing that can be done at home or at a clinic with same-day results.

The Initiative is also backed by an advisory group that will help set the venture's priorities and an outside technical-advisory group of global-health-policy experts, scientists and specialists in infectious-disease diagnostics.

"Organizations working on diagnostics need reliable, scalable compute power, which we can deliver to them along with industry-leading services like analytics and machine learning, so they can process and analyze large data sets and iterate quickly," Teresa Carlson, vice president for AWS' worldwide public sector business, wrote in a blog post announcing the DDI.

While the emphasis initially will be on COVID-19, the initiative will also consider other infectious-disease diagnostic projects, and is open to researchers and organizations around the world.

The website for the Initiative noted funding would be provided through a combination of AWS in-kind credits and technical support, and the services eligible for said credits include AWS compute, storage, database, machine learning, artificial intelligence and analytics services, among others.

THE LARGER TREND

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to an outpouring of initiatives aimed at combating the global pandemic. For example, Lebanon's Berytech Fab Lab is offering up to a $10,000 grant to five heathtech startups working on a solution to respond to the crisis.

Meanwhile, technology giant Microsoft is stepping up to help the UK's National Health Service in its struggle against coronavirus, with the tech giant's Teams service being rolled out to all NHS staff in England and Scotland to enable greater communications, no matter where staff are.

ON THE RECORD

"The world needs more and more private-sector innovation to combat this pandemic," Steve Davis, a 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 a statement. "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."

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com
Twitter: @dropdeaded209