China Calls India’s Criticism of Faulty Test Kits ‘Prejudice’

Coronavirus Test
AP Photo/Martin Mejia

Beijing’s embassy in New Delhi called India’s decision to stop using faulty Chinese-made coronavirus test kits an act of “prejudice” and “unfair” on Tuesday, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported this week.

Last week, Indian health authorities told state leaders to discontinue the use of Chinese coronavirus tests after finding them inaccurate, according to India Today.

On April 21, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a government-funded health body, halted the use of rapid coronavirus antibody test kits purchased from China following complaints from several Indian states that they were not accurate. Upon investigation, the ICMR found that the test kits’ accuracy ranged widely, anywhere between six and 71 percent, India Today reports.

“We got a complaint of [inaccurate] detection from one state. So, we spoke to three states and found … a lot of variation … in the accuracy of test results of positive samples. In some places [accuracy] is six percent while [in] others it is 71 percent,” said Raman R. Gangakhedkar, head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases for ICMR, at a press briefing on April 21.

“This is not a good thing because when such a huge variation is seen we need to investigate further even if it is the first generation of the test … we can’t ignore these findings,” he added.

On Tuesday, the Chinese embassy in New Delhi responded to ICMR’s decision to discontinue the use of the defective Chinese test kits, saying it was “deeply concerned,” SCMP reports.

“It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as ‘faulty’ and look at issues with pre-emptive prejudice,” Chinese embassy spokeswoman Ji Rong said in a statement, without specifying to whom she referred to by the phrase “certain individuals.”

According to Ji, the test kits sent to India met Chinese quality standards. She said the rapid antibody tests were “only to be used for surveillance purposes,” and not meant for diagnosing or confirming coronavirus cases.

The two companies in southern China that produced the test kits for India – Wondfo Biotech in Guangzhou and Livzon Diagnostics in Zhuhai – had been in touch with the Chinese embassy, according to its statement.

“[W]e hope the Indian side could respect China’s goodwill and sincerity, strengthen communication [in a timely way] with relevant Chinese companies based on facts, and resolve this reasonably and properly,” Ji said.

Over the past two weeks, India has imported more than 500 tons of medical equipment from China, Indian newspaper the Hindu reported on Tuesday.

On April 16, India reported that 50,000 of the 170,000 coronavirus personal protection equipment (PPE) kits it received from China on April 5 were unusable because they failed safety checks. Two additional shipments from China totaling 40,000 PPE kits failed Indian safety tests as well.

At press time on Wednesday, India had recorded 31,787 infections and 1,008 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus.

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