heroine (AMZNO) Britain is testing its front-line staff for coronavirus variants and feeding data to public health officials, including hotspots where a strain first detected in India is spreading rapidly.
The retail giant opened COVID-19 testing laboratories in the UK and the United States last year to provide voluntary testing for employees and can now test for variants in the UK as well, where scientists have sequenced the coronavirus genome.
Aided by a rapid vaccine rollout, Britain is on the verge of reopening its economy after months of lockdown, but the delta variant first detected in India has spread, including in regions where Amazon has its own There are laboratories and some fulfillment centres.
Luke Meredith, director of the Amazon Diagnostic Laboratory in the UK, said the company was open to offering the same service in the United States, and did not rule out making its testing program available to UK people in the future.
“It’s very important that we acknowledge the fact that variants can be transmitted in different ways, they have different responses to vaccines, they can have different effects on people’s health.” He told Reuters. “It’s a learning phase.”
The coronavirus pandemic has killed 3.7 million people, forcing governments, companies and society to rethink the way people work, travel and socialize. Some preliminary studies suggest that the delta variant spreads more easily.
Amazon’s trial is available to around 30,000 front-line workers in the UK who are working in warehouses and logistics. The British lab has already processed more than 900,000 tests since opening 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 to obtain additional data to help track the spread of the variant.
Asked whether Amazon would make testing facilities available to the public in the UK, where the cost of private testing could run into the hundreds of pounds for international travel, Meredith said it was too early to say.
“I don’t think we can rule anything out at the moment, it’s a decision that will have to be made, but for now we just want to focus on our employees,” he said.
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