Amazon just received authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin using its own COVID-19 test for onsite testing. The test was made by STS LAB Holdco, one of Amazon’s multiple subsidiaries. The test consists of a nasal swab that can be done with the aid of a health worker or at home where the patient must take the results to a certified lab. According to the FDA, “Amazon plans to use the Amazon Real-Time RT-PCR Test for Detecting SARS-CoV-2 (Amazon Test) as part of the company’s overall Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) preparedness and response program.”
The company also plans to give some of its employees tests every 14 days. While entirely optional, the FDA states “Amazon has partnered with a third-party healthcare provider who will issue the necessary prescriptions and individual test orders.”
The FDA’s letter of authorization was directed to Cem Sibay. According to Business Insider, due to his role as Vice President of Amazon Labs, the company made him in charge of building its own COVID-19 testing lab last summer. In October, it was announced that the new lab was capable of running tens of thousands of tests daily for its employees. The test developed by Amazon Labs is based on another test made by BGI Genomics. The original test was first used on August 28th, 2020, and since has been used over 560,000 times. Since the start of the pandemic, Amazon has significantly increased its presence in the health care department. In January, it began to sell COVID-19 testing kits made by the company DxTerity for $110. Last week, it declared that the company’s healthcare program was going to be offered to other corporations. This is not the first time Amazon has expressed interest in the healthcare industry. In fact, in 2018 it planned on buying Confer Healthy, a company that specializes in diagnostics.