The British government reportedly spent £16 million on two million coronavirus home test kits from two separate Chinese companies, none of which work.
The New York Times claimed on Friday that a laboratory at Oxford University found that the tests, intended to be rolled out as home kits, were insufficiently accurate at detecting antibodies. The American newspaper alleged that half a million from one company are now in storage and the other 1.5 million from the second Chinese firm have also gone unused. The tests were manufactured by AllTest Biotech and Wondfo Biotech, both of which claim that their products met European Union (EU) standards.
Following complaints from the British government that the tests were useless, both Chinese companies attempted to blame British officials for misunderstanding how the tests worked, with Wanfo Biotech claiming that the test for only to be used supplementarily for patients who already knew that they had the virus.
A spokesman from the Department of Health and Social Care told the newspaper that the government had ordered the smallest batch the vendors would sell, and it would seek to recuperate taxpayers’ money for the faulty medical equipment.
It is unclear if these tests are the very same batch of millions of faulty Chinese-made tests that the British government admitted to having bought at the beginning of this month.
Professor John Newton of Public Health England (PHE) — the government’s official executive agency responsible for public health in England — had said that the Chinese tests had been validated against patients who had been severely ill. In contrast, the United Kingdom needed tests that required a range of infection levels to pick up those with the antibodies.
However, the New York Times report may point to the scale of taxpayers’ money being spent on faulty medical equipment purchased from the very country where the pandemic originated.
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The Daily Mail said that Downing Street did not deny the claims put out by the NYT, but a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was not aware of the specific £16 million figure. The spokesman told the British newspaper: “Where tests are shown not to have any prospect of working then we will seek to recover as much of the costs as we can.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman also told The Sun: “We are currently working with a number of companies on finding fast, reliable antibody tests and are in the process of evaluating their effectiveness.
“These tests could be transformational, and we are working round the clock to gain regulatory approval. It is crucial we are satisfied of their safety and accuracy before making them available.
“We have bought our current stock on the basis of minimum initial volumes, which are being clinically tested. If tests don’t work, orders will be cancelled, and costs recovered wherever possible.”
If the reports are accurate, it would fit the profile of Chinese companies taking advantage of European countries in crisis by selling them shoddy or overpriced equipment. Last month, the Netherlands had to recall 600,000 masks sent from China that were found to have faulty filters, for example.
Spain also had received thousands of coronavirus tests from Chinese company Shenzen Bioeasy Biotechnology Company Limited which proved useless. Again, the company claimed that its products were EU certified.
China’s communist regime also attempted to avoid responsibility, with the Chinese embassy in Madrid implying that the Spanish government was at fault.
A diplomatic source in Spain had warned that Chinese companies were taking advantage of the situation, with some costs increasing by tenfold and companies in China demanding payment upfront.
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The United Kingdom, Spain, and the Netherlands are just a handful of Western countries desperately scrambling to obtain vital personal protection equipment, medicines, ventilators, and tests from Chinese suppliers because their own domestic supply chains have been decimated by decades of globalisation.
Writing last month, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said that the Chinese coronavirus pandemic had exposed the West’s dependency on China in its supply chains. Italy, the epicentre of the epidemic, has been forced to accept support from Xi Jinping’s communist regime due to the EU’s failure to help its member-state.
Mr Farage wrote of the situation: “To see China now exploiting a crisis that they have caused to spread their influence further and deeper into Europe should send a chill down our spines.”
Mr Farage also warned in April that Chinese interests are lining up to take advantage of the economic disruption caused by the Chinese coronavirus crisis hoping for a “fire sale” of British businesses so they can buy up “vast swathes of our strategic and manufacturing industries”.
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