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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Amazon may launch healthcare business line with at-home COVID test and other diagnostic services

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Amazon first started building out its internal COVID-19 testing lab with diagnostic equipment from third-party manufacturers in April 2020. (Amazon Photo / Hardy Wilson)

Amazon is reportedly considering launching a new line of business that expands on the tech giant’s interests around healthcare. Business Insider reported Monday that the company may offer at-home medical tests — including for COVID-19 — and a third-party marketplace for general home-diagnostics services.

Sources told Insider that Amazon could offer testing kits for infections that lead to respiratory and sexually transmitted diseases, and its long-term goal is to expand into areas such as clinical genomics.

According to the report, a COVID-19 testing kit could arrive from Amazon in June.

The company first started building out its testing capabilities last year at the start of the pandemic, when it redirected workers from its Lab126 hardware group, best known for creating its Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets and Echo smart speakers.

The move at the time was part of a larger effort by Amazon to expand its COVID-19 testing capabilities, tapping employees from a variety of roles across the company, including research scientists, program managers, procurement specialists and software engineers.

Insider said the new initiative is led by the same team that built out the in-house testing lab and is internally code-named “Project Ultraviolet.” The team is already being referred to as “Amazon Diagnostics” internally and Insider said it could start using that brand publicly when testing kits launch.

Amazon’s health and wellness endeavors include its acquisition of online pharmacy Pillpack, the company’s new Halo health tracking device, and its Haven healthcare partnership with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway that ended earlier this year. The company also sells Amazon Web Services to healthcare customers.

And the company rolled out a new employee wellness program on Monday called WorkingWell, aimed at helping hundreds of thousands of operations workers avoid injuries on the job and lead healthier lifestyles.

Amazon’s move into home diagnostics would pit the company against testing giants Quest and Labcorp, as well as smaller health vendors, Insider noted. And retailers such as Kroger, Walmart, and Albertsons launched their own home-testing services for general consumers over the past year.

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