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Amazon is teaming up with researchers funded by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to pick up and deliver coronavirus test kits.

The Gates Foundation-backed Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) is learning how the infection spreads.

It involves collecting nasal swabs to track the virus among residents of Seattle’s King County in Washington.

Amazon Care, the retail giant’s employee medical care arm, is now helping with deliveries of the kits.

King County is one of the places hardest hit by the outbreak in the US.

SCAN, a group of medical, public health and research organisations, is trying to find out how the infection is spreading in different parts of society, with an aim to seeing how the outbreak is likely to develop.

Amazon Care will assist the work by delivering test kits to people’s homes and then picking them up for researchers.

If the virus is detected, the participant will then be put in touch with healthcare workers.

“We are grateful to be surrounded by a strong community of public health, global health and academic leaders and are eager to leverage Amazon Care’s infrastructure and logistics capabilities to support this local effort,” an Amazon spokesman said.

The partnership could help improve coronavirus testing in the US as it lags behind other countries in getting people checked for the virus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday reported 33,453 cases of coronavirus in the country. That’s an increase of 18,185 cases from its previous count, while the death toll almost doubled to 400.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation along with research charity Wellcome and Mastercard’s Impact Charity have committed $125m (£107m) in funding to develop treatments for the coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Mr Gates announced he was stepping down from Microsoft’s board to focus on his philanthropic efforts.

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