The coronavirus pandemic feels as though it has pressed pause on many of the more visible aspects of our lives. Governments busily try to figure out what constitutes a ‘key’ service – food supply chains, telecommunications systems and so on are all part of the vital infrastructure that allows us to move from one day to the next. If these infrastructures were to falter, we’d know about it soon enough – just think of the empty shelves at the supermarket, or stories that demand is outstripping supply for certain everyday products.
Most of us, as Science and Technology Studies scholar Susan Leigh Star points out, never really think about or notice such infrastructure until it starts to break down. Yet now, all around us infrastructures are coming under huge strain, and with it are becoming more visible. Most of us will be fortunate enough not to have noticed one of them: the global blood stem cell infrastructure, which is also experiencing the unprecedented challenge of maintaining international provision of stem cells for immunologically compromised patients around the world amidst the chaos of the pandemic.