AWS commits $20m in the fight against COVID-19

By Nicola Wright

AWS has announced that it’s launching an initiative to help fast-track diagnostics, research, and testing in the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak.

The firm has promised to provide $20 million in technical support and AWS credit over the next 12 months to customers who are working on bringing faster, more accurate diagnostic solutions to market.

AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative will offer support to both accredited research institutions and private entities that are using AWS for research-related workloads in the pursuit of improved COVID-19 testing and diagnostics.

Aiming to supercharge the often slow process of vaccine and treatment development research funded by government agencies, DDI hopes to expedite rapid and precise patient testing for the 2019 novel coronavirus, along with developing other diagnostic solutions to mitigate future outbreaks.

The scheme is backed by a counsel of a technical advisory group consisting of 35 global research institutions, leading scientists, health policy experts, and thought leaders.

This consortium will help determine priorities for the program and determine the best way for the DDI to circulate critical findings and facilitate communication between AWS customers and external organizations working toward the same goals.

The designated $20m will take the form of AWS in-kind credits and technical support to help AWS customers and their research teams take full advantage of cloud services in their efforts to end the global pandemic.

As Teresa Carlson, Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector at AWS, stated in a recent blog post, AWS believes the DDI can have a three-fold impact in the fight against COVID-19.

“First, accurate detection is the tip of the spear for any effective pandemic response strategy,” Carlson wrote.

“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.”

Steve Davis of the World Health Organization’s Digital Health Technical Advisory Group, and a member of the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative’s advisory faction, praised the private company’s effort to spur innovation.

“The world needs more and more private sector innovation to combat this pandemic,” said Davis.

“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.”

AWS customers who are interested in taking part can visit the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative webpage for more information and to apply.

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