On 16 March 2020, the WHO's director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, sent a “simple message to all the nations”, exhorting them to “test, test, test” for Covid-19. However, answering this call to massively test, and following up with large-scale contact tracing and quarantine (TTI, test, trace, & isolate) proved anything but simple.

At Cermes3 (Centre for Research on Medicine, Sciences, Health, Mental Health and Society), our Paris-based research centre, we collectively investigated the implementation of Covid-19 TTI policy in France during the March-June 2020 lockdown period, and started to unpick the different, scientific, technical, logistical, political and sanitary factors at play in the initial inability to scale up testing, and the difficulties that plagued the successive schemes implemented since then. In so doing, we were immediately confronted with both the international stakes of these questions (the manufacturing, circulation, and calibration of RT- PCR machines can only be envisioned globally), and, conversely, the specificities of national, and sometimes local, trajectories (national and regional/state laws, regulations, and socio-economic context also played an important part in the differences observed between and within countries).

In other words, the topic begs for international comparisons, which will in turn help us understand national idiosyncrasies in the implementation of TTI. This grounds our will to start t a conversation among colleagues from different countries who share an interest in researching one or more of the many aspects of testing, tracing, and quarantining for Covid-19: the techniques used, their application and their articulation with health policies.This online webinar is the first step into this conversation.


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