All Contact Tracing Is Not Created Equal

Contact tracing—with its deceptively simple mantra of “test-trace-isolate”—varies wildly from country to country in strategy and success. 

  • The US system is markedly flawed as tracers struggle to reach cases and contacts, according to the minimal data available.
  • Meanwhile, South Korea leaves little to chance. It uses data surveillance to keep tabs on cases and publishing data online, raising privacy concerns but also helping avoid lockdowns.
  • Vietnam takes a similar approach and also sometimes checks for “third-order” contacts—uncovering some 200 contacts for each case. Compare that to an average of 17 contacts per cases in Taiwan, to 2 in the UK, and 1.4 in France.


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