By Jeffrey Dastin and Krystal Hu
(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc has contacted the CEOs of two coronavirus test manufacturers to investigate how to screen employees and reduce the risk of infection in the camps. This is evident from Reuters’ internal meeting notes.
The CEOs of Abbott Laboratories and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc have told Amazon that they would like to work with the e-commerce company, although the U.S. government is currently using all of its testing capabilities.
The company also discussed whether it could start such tests in at least one warehouse near its headquarters in Seattle, the status of which was unclear. The nature of Amazon’s discussions with the test manufacturers and the precise support they could offer were unclear.
The separately specified document examines whether Amazon can scan more than one person for the virus at one time, and it also wants to support a medical organization in its testing efforts. No further details on multi-person tests were given or a partner was named.
Abbott and Thermo Fisher did not return a request for comment late Friday. Amazon declined to comment.
Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, will launch face masks and temperature checks for employees in all warehouses in the United States and Europe by next week.
In the longer term, however, the company plans to test employees for the virus and hopes that other companies will follow suit, as Amazon’s General Counsel also criticized an employee who was fired on Monday.
The notes show how the company focuses on coronavirus testing that is important to its operation and strengthening the U.S. economy. They also show how Amazon is at an early stage to determine how to start checking the virus and how to fix a lack of testing.
Attempts to step up screening efforts come at a time when high-profile protests have hit several Amazon warehouses as employees increasingly fear that they will become infected with the virus when they come to work. COVID-19 disease has been reported by employees from at least 19 of its US camps.
Worldwide, more than a million people are infected and more than 58,000 have died in the pandemic.
Abbott has a U.S. market approval for a diagnostic test that enables patients to achieve results in minutes that can be used in doctors’ offices and other public health facilities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also approved a Thermo Fisher test.
The type of assessment Amazon was considering was also unclear, whether diagnostic to identify current infections or an antibody test to determine if someone might be immune.
Amazon has a growing interest in health care. The company announced a partnership two years ago with Berkshire Hathaway Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co to reduce health costs for its employees, a company now known as Haven.
Other retailers, including rival Walmart Inc, have now worked with the White House on passage tests for first responders.
(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco and Krystal Hu and Carl O’Donnell in New York; editing by Peter Henderson and Pravin Char)