© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Amazon logo is seen at its center in Darlington, County Durham, Britain, on Sept. 3, 2020. REUTERS / Lee Smith
By Kate Holton and James Davey
LONDON (Reuters) – Amazon (NASDAQ 🙂 is testing its front-line staff in Britain for variants of the coronavirus and handing over the data to public health officials, including at hotspots where a strain was first found in India. it is spreading rapidly.
The retail giant opened COVID-19 testing labs in the UK and US last year to provide voluntary testing for staff and can now also test variants in Britain, where scientists have pioneered genome sequencing. of coronavirus.
With the help of a rapid vaccine launch, Britain is poised to reopen its economy after months of lockdowns, but the Delta variant first found in India has spread, even in areas where Amazon has its laboratory and some fulfillment centers.
Luke Meredith (NYSE :), director of the Amazon Diagnostic Laboratory (NYSE 🙂 in Great Britain, said that the company was open to offering the same service in the United States and did not rule out making its testing program available to the public of the UK in future.
“It is very important that we recognize the fact that variants can be transmitted in different ways, they have different responses to vaccines, they can have different impacts on people’s health,” he told Reuters. “This is a learning phase.”
The coronavirus pandemic has killed 3.7 million people, forcing governments, businesses, and society to rethink how people work, travel, and socialize. Some early studies show that the Delta variant spreads more easily.
The Amazon trials are available to around 30,000 front-line employees in Britain, working in warehouses and logistics. The British laboratory has already processed more than 900,000 tests since it opened in September, including from its sites in Europe.
Meredith, who previously worked for the World Health Organization and the University of Cambridge, said Public Health England was eager for additional data to help track the spread of variants.
When asked if Amazon would make the testing facilities available to the public in Britain, where the cost of private testing can run into the hundreds of pounds for international travel, Meredith said it was too early to say.
“I don’t think we can rule out anything at this point, that’s a decision that will have to be made, but for now we just want to focus on our staff,” he said.
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