As COVID-19 continues to spread, we are acutely aware of the impact this is having on families, businesses, and communities. This is a global health emergency that will only be resolved by governments, businesses, academia, and individuals working together to better understand this virus and ultimately find a cure. Amazon is a large company with several different businesses and each is looking for ways we can help—we’ve shared many of the things we’ve already done. In our Amazon Web Services (AWS) business, one area where we have heard an urgent need is in the research and development of diagnostics, which consist of rapid, accurate detection and testing of COVID-19. Better diagnostics will help accelerate treatment and containment, and in time, shorten the course of this epidemic.
That’s why we are launching the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative—a global program to support customers who are working to bring better, more accurate, diagnostics solutions to market faster and promote better collaboration across organizations that are working on similar problems. As part of this, we are committing an initial investment of $20 million to accelerate diagnostic research, innovation, and development to speed our collective understanding and detection of COVID-19 and other innovate diagnostic solutions to mitigate future infectious disease outbreaks. Funding will be provided through a combination of AWS in-kind credits and technical support to assist our customers’ research teams in harnessing the full potential of the cloud to tackle this challenge.
The program will be open to accredited research institutions and private entities that are 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). Given the need, the emphasis initially will be on COVID-19, but we will also consider other infectious disease diagnostic projects.
We believe we can make a difference with the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative program for several reasons. First, accurate detection is the tip of the spear for any effective pandemic response strategy. Second, diagnostics research has historically been underfunded and largely deprioritized in favor of a focus on vaccines. Third, 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.
The AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative will benefit from the counsel of an outside technical advisory group consisting of leading scientists, global health policy experts, and thought leaders in the field of infectious disease diagnostics. This advisory group will help set the initiative’s priorities, help us innovate ways to enable participants to securely share critical research findings, and foster better dialogue between our customers and qualified external organizations who may be working independently to solve similar challenges.
As 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 noted:
“The world needs more and more private sector innovation to combat this pandemic. 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.”
We are launching the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative with participation from 35 global research institutions, startups, and businesses focused on tackling this challenge.
We encourage those customers who are interested in learning more to visit our AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative webpage.