The U.S. government, after its initial attempt, has still not rolled out a national testing program for the coronavirus. Nonetheless, two Chinese eCommerce giants are staking out turf in COVID-19 testing as the pressure builds to test more people and get the world economy on track.
Alibaba Group and JD.com said they have set up “booking services” for COVID-19 tests, as reported by Reuters. These services arrive as China expands testing for the coronavirus and ends the lockdown of Wuhan, the city where the outbreak first began.
Alibaba users searching for “Coronavirus Nucleic Acid Test" are sent to a web page for setting up appointments. The company said it plans to expand from the nine cities where it now offers the bookings.
Prices vary by city, but can be as low as 180 yuan ($25.42) in Shanghai, said Reuters.
The Beijing booking service on JD.com, a top Alibaba competitor in China, started up last week. The move comes as authorities are requiring that individuals leaving Wuhan and returning to their homes in Beijing take a nucleic acid test.
Several Chinese cities and provinces are offering coronavirus testing on a voluntary basis. That’s in addition to the mandatory testing required of individuals based on their travel history.
Many medical experts view increased testing as a necessary step in reopening nations’ economies. As reported by PYMNTS, China just had its worst three-month period in decades. While the country’s economy grew by 6 percent in the last quarter of 2019, it was hit with a loss of 6.8 percent of GDP in the first quarter of this year.
In the U.S., the social distancing rules in place around the country have pummeled the economy and led to massive job losses.
Mohamed El-Erian, chief Allianz economic advisor, said the U.S. economy could shrink by 10 percent to 14 percent this year.