AWS kicks in $20M to help combat COVID-19 with a new program

Amazon Web Service backs new diagnostic and research program to improve COVID-19 testing. (Pixabay)

Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced Friday that it's making an initial $20 million investment for a new diagnostic development program to fight COVID-19. With current testing results taking a day or more, AWS is putting its considerable resources behind finding and developing faster results.

The AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative is designed to "accelerate diagnostic research, innovation, and development to speed our collective understanding and detection of COVID-19."

"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," said AWS's Teresa Carlson, in a blog. "Better diagnostics will help accelerate treatment and containment, and in time, shorten the course of this epidemic."

Carlson said the COVID-19 funding would be provided through a combination of AWS in-kind credits and technical support to assist its customers’ research teams while "harnessing the full potential of the cloud to tackle this challenge." The new program is launching with participation from 35 global research institutions, startups and businesses.

The program is 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, which includes testing that can be done at home or at a clinic with same-day results. While the initial focus is on COVID-19, AWS will consider other disease-related diagnostic projects.

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The program will also have the support of an outside technical advisory group that's made up of "leading scientists, global health policy experts, and thought leaders in the field of infectious disease diagnostics," the blog stated.

"We believe we can make a difference with the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative program for several reasons," Carlson said. "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."

AWS has set-up a webpage to provide more information on the program. As of this morning, there were 259,043 coronavirus cases worldwide and 10,545 deaths.