Scalable Testing for Coronavirus
Amazon is focused on protecting the health and safety of our employees while continuing to serve people who need our services more than ever. Our employees are heroes helping people get the products they need delivered to their doorsteps, products they might not otherwise be able to get while maintaining social distancing.
To date, we’ve made over 150 significant process changes at sites around the world to ensure the health and safety of our teams. Our operations sites and grocery stores are distributing masks to employees and conducting employee temperature checks.
A next step might be regular testing of all employees, including those showing no symptoms. Regular testing on a global scale across all industries would both help keep people safe and help get the economy back up and running. But, for this to work, we as a society would need vastly more testing capacity than is currently available. Unfortunately, today we live in a world of scarcity where COVID-19 testing is heavily rationed.
If every person, including people with no symptoms, could be tested regularly, it would make a huge difference in how we are all fighting this virus. Those who test positive could be quarantined and cared for, and everyone who tests negative could re-enter the economy with confidence.
Until we have an effective vaccine available in billions of doses, high-volume testing capacity would be of great help, but getting that done will take collective action by NGOs, companies, and governments.
For our part, we’ve begun the work of building incremental testing capacity. A team of Amazonians with a variety of skills – from research scientists and program managers to procurement specialists and software engineers – have moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative. We have begun assembling the equipment we need to build our first lab (photos below) and hope to start testing small numbers of our front line employees soon.
We are not sure how far we will get in the relevant timeframe, but we think it’s worth trying, and we stand ready to share anything we learn with others.