Given the worldwide shortages of N95 surgical masks and coronavirus diagnostic kits, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has decided to halt all sales of those two medical supplies to consumers.
Instead, Amazon said it is prioritizing sales of N95 masks and COVID-19 test kits to hospitals and government agencies, Earlier in the week, it debuted a new section of its website where hospitals and government organizations can order vital COVID-19 related products including masks and tests.
Amazon said it will not be making a profit from those sales, and that it's waiving its standard referral fees for third-party sellers on products used to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Amazon said it's not accepting requests from individuals or non-qualified organizations.
The e-commerce giant has also turned to its third-party sellers for help in getting these important medical supplies to healthcare providers. In a message to sellers, Amazon urged them to make additional inventory of N95 masks, surgical masks, facial shields, surgical gowns, gloves and large-volume sanitizers available at competitive prices.
An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC that its goal is to ensure these vital supplies reach the organizations that need them during the pandemic. Members of the public will still be able to purchase small volumes of hand sanitizers and wipes on its e-commerce site.
With the number of COVID cases in the U.S. surpassing 235,000, hospitals around the country have been warning they either have run out of key supplies or will run out shortly. Amazon in mid-March took the step of blocking all new third-party listings for face masks and sanitizers as part of its efforts clamp down on price gouging.