National COVID-19 testing strategy analysis

15 October 2020

Innogen member Smita Srinivas and co-authors analyse COVID-19 testing in different countries. They highlight the need to take the industrial organisation of health systems within countries into account for testing strategies to be successful.

The IKD working paper examines the industrial complexity involved in building technological capabilities and policy instruments to accelerate Covid-19 testing. The evidence to date indicates that clinical foreground responsiveness is inextricably linked with industrial background considerations.

The authors identify at least 7 types of clinical foreground-industrial background uncertainties that link economics to health and that determine a country’s national testing strategy. Their analysis confirms the importance of localized devolution and policy contexts for industrial supply chains. The authors argue that disproportionate focus on diagnostic kit production as opposed to potential economic development interventions has missed important opportunities thus far.

“[..] there is no a priori ‘best’ testing strategy without the national industrial policy and governance context. [..]….Industrial policy is evidently an essential determinant of health and a more systemic response is needed. The WHO may do well by setting up expert groups and convening on policy instruments, such as procurement or other advance market commitments for industrial manufacture, the WHO could contribute to ensure that testing kits can be made available to all countries, as comparable initiatives are doing for COVID-19 vaccines,” says Smita Srinivas, Professorial Research Fellow, at The Open University (UK), TCLab, and Visiting Professor at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (India).

Read the full paper here: The clinical foreground and industrial background: Customizing national strategy for COVID-19 testing