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Accepted Paper:

Testing Covid-19 in Brazil: building public testing infrastructures during a health crisis  
Mady Malheiro Barbeitas (CNRS) Koichi Kameda de F. Carvalho (University of Bordeaux)

Long abstract:

In March 2020, the WHO asked all countries to invest into expanding PCR testing to control the spread of the virus causing Covid-19. However, this recommendation was not anticipated or called into question due to the difficulties involved in adopting tests in different countries, as well as the logistics involved in transporting samples, training technicians, and supplying reagents.

In Brazil, the supply of COVID-19 tests has been shaped, on the one hand, by the country's scientific and industrial capabilities, and on the other, by its political context. The country has a long track record in managing health crises, such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, where the state played an important role in formulating policies focused on access to biotechnologies or also in the research and production of innovations for infectious diseases. However, the political context during the COVID-19 pandemic, characterized by divergent views on the importance of the epidemic within the government, has led the State to gradually lose its leading role in managing the health crisis.

This paper aims to understand what was at stake in the formulation of the COVID-19 testing policy in Brazil in the first year of the pandemic. It also analyzes the different strategies used by national innovation actors to expand diagnostic capacity, revealing the place of testing within the management of the epidemic. The paper draws on interviews (25) with researchers, industrials, policymakers, and testing laboratories, as well as on a visit to a public testing facility.

Traditional Open Panel P309
Governing biomedical tests: towards social studies of bio-medical testing?
  Session 2