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expert reaction to the UK government being in talks with Amazon and other companies about delivering COVID-19 testing kits to healthcare workers and those self-isolating

There have been reports that the UK government is in talks with Amazon and other companies about delivering COVID-19 testing kits to healthcare workers and those self-isolating.


Dr Natalie Banner, Understanding Patient Data Lead, said:

“There’s no doubt that using the logistics and delivery capacity of a company like Amazon could help the Government deliver these tests far more efficiently than through the NHS alone. However, there will be questions about how private companies will be able use the information they collect on people through delivering this service. In the face of an unprecedented public health crisis, it’s more important than ever that Government decisions can be scrutinised, and that steps are taken to maintain people’s trust and support.”


Dr Peter Bannister, Biomedical Engineer & Executive Chair, Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), said:

“The current situation requires adaptation of existing systems and technologies to rapidly address the immediate threat of Covid-19 as well as adapting to new priority health and care needs, such as increased social isolation and telemedicine. Leveraging an existing infrastructure such as Amazon’s supply chain is an agile response to a clear need for increased testing. While management of personal health information by a commercial organization raises legitimate concerns, this should motivate a similarly rapid adaptation of any applicable data oversight in order to support the isolated population through these challenging times.”


Prof Robert Dingwall, Professor of Sociology, Nottingham Trent University, said:

“This seems quite sensible if the kits are to be administered in the home. Amazon and similar companies have much more experience with the logistics of delivering at scale to private addresses, and collecting returns, than any organization in the public sector. It takes a load off the public sector which it is not really equipped to carry and which it would be distracting and inefficient to replicate. The bigger issue is the quality of the tests and of the labs that would do the analysis.”


Financial Times: UK in talks with Amazon and others to deliver coronavirus tests


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