India accuses China of sending faulty coronavirus test kits

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China’s embassy in New Delhi has denied allegations by the Indian government that coronavirus testing kits it ordered from China are faulty, calling the claim unfair and irresponsible.

On Monday, the national Indian Council of Medical Research canceled an order for nearly 1 million rapid antibody testing kits from two Chinese companies, Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics, over concerns about their quality and pricing. It said the kits had “wide variation” in their sensitivity and asked for them to be returned.

Chinese Embassy spokeswoman Ji Rong rejected the claim on Tuesday, saying, “The quality of medical products exported from China is prioritized. It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as ‘faulty’ and look at issues with preemptive prejudice.”

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A health worker takes a swab test at a COVID-19 testing center in New Delhi, India, Monday, April 27, 2020. India’s main medical research organization has cancelled orders to procure rapid antibody test kits from two Chinese companies after quality issues and controversies over its price. 

A health worker takes a swab test at a COVID-19 testing center in New Delhi, India, Monday, April 27, 2020. India’s main medical research organization has cancelled orders to procure rapid antibody test kits from two Chinese companies after quality issues and controversies over its price.  (AP)

She said both companies insist that their kits meet quality standards in China and that India’s National Institute of Virology had found them to be “satisfactory products.”

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She also stressed that there were strict requirements for storage, transportation and use of the kits. “Any operation which isn’t carried out by professionals in accordance with product specification will lead to the testing accuracy variations,” she said.

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The ICMR canceled the order after testimony in the Delhi High Court revealed that the Indian government had agreed to pay $3.9 million for kits that had been imported from China at a cost of $1.6 million, with the difference going to Indian intermediaries. India’s government says it has not yet paid for the kits.

Chinese exporters of medical goods are required to show that they are approved for sale in their destination market under rules that were imposed on March 30 after complaints from several countries about faulty and sub-standard goods.

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On April 10, China said it would inspect every shipment of medical supplies to confirm that they met quality standards. But after concerns that this would delay exports, regulators in China said on Saturday that producers that meet the official standards of their destination market can apply for approval through an industry association.