Report: Amazon secretly trying to cure the common cold

March 9, 2020

Amazon, the world’s largest retailer is reportedly looking for ways to diversify its business model and generate new sources of value. One approach the company is reportedly taking involves a secret group called Grand Challenges that’s aimed at solving major global problems.

Although Amazon has not publicly acknowledged the group, CNBC reported recently that sources familiar with the Grand Challenge said that its R&D division, AWS, has about 100 employees working on a years-long project to develop a vaccine or new treatment for the common cold. 

The major obstacle with developing a cold vaccine is that 75 percent of cases stem from rhinoviruses, of which there are 160 strains. Viruses are also highly adept at mutating and developing resistances to vaccines. For these reasons, the prevailing wisdom in health care is that making a cold vaccine can’t be done, unless perhaps the researchers are focusing on the most common strains of rhinoviruses. 

The group is also reportedly working on novel treatments for the cold.

This potential foray into the health care world is not the only inroad Amazon is considering. Reports have circulated since 2018 that the company is planning to one day sell pharmaceuticals through its website, becoming a major market disrupter to the pharma supply chain.