March 23, 2020 / 9:42 PM / 11 days ago

UPDATE 1-Amazon teams up with Bill Gates-backed group to deliver coronavirus test kits

(Adds background on coronavirus deaths)

March 23 (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc is teaming up with a research program funded by Bill Gates to pick up and deliver coronavirus test kits in Seattle, the e-commerce giant said on Monday.

The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network, a group of medical, public health and research organizations, is collecting nasal swabs from a sample of people across King County and Seattle to learn how the infection is spreading in the areas.

King County, part of Washington state, is one of the worst hit places by the outbreak in the United States.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday reported 33,453 cases of coronavirus in the country, an increase of 18,185 cases from its previous count, and said the death toll had risen by 199 to 400.

Amazon Care, the e-commerce giant's arm that provide medical care to employees, along with other delivery partners will provide infrastructure and logistics services to the effort, according to SCAN's website.

United Parcel Service and FedEx have arms that specialize in such shipments, which require special handling including temperature controls. It was not immediately clear whether UPS and FedEx were part of the effort.

CNBC first reported about the move, which Amazon said is limited to Amazon Care and does not involve its broader delivery network. (Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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