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Writing on a Clipboard

About the project

This research project seeks to interrogate the building, construction, and legacy of diagnostic testing systems in response to the Covid-19 pandemic across eight countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, and the United Kingdom.


The project team will identify the key elements of Covid testing systems, including measures taken that facilitated preparedness and resilience before the crisis, and rapid innovations that helped countries to deal with a fast-evolving pandemic. This will allow us to provide lessons and recommendations for the institutionalisation of testing systems for future epidemics.


OCTS is also a research and knowledge exchange hub that will facilitate dialogue between the international research team and policymakers so that relevant questions are rapidly addressed and key findings are disseminated in the UK and beyond.


The research is sub-divided into four separate, but overlapping, themes:

1.  International comparison of Test, Trace, and Isolate systems. This theme is based primarily on the integration of the dominant PCR tests into national policymaking and their use for diagnosing cases and isolating contacts. (Theme Lead: Collins Iwuji)

2.  Screening regimes. This theme focuses on the regulation and deployment of rapid antigen or antibody testing kits, particularly for home use. (Theme Lead: Stuart Hogarth)

3.  Commercial testing systems. This theme aims to understand the integration of direct-to-consumer testing across the study countries, as well as considering the development of the ‘testing economy’ where private companies organise testing services for businesses and consumers. (Theme Lead: Sibylle Gaisser)

4.  Learning the lessons. This theme concerns itself with long-term institutionalisation of testing systems and the question of ‘what next?’ This theme aims to understand how the lessons from Covid-19 are shaping policymaking as the pandemic shifts into more localised responses. (Theme Lead: Joshua Moon)


OCTS aims to provide timely international comparative analysis of effective national diagnostic testing systems as well as highlighting the important role of international lesson sharing & knowledge transfer.

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