A decision by India to suspend the use of Chinese rapid testing kits for COVID-19 on the grounds that they are faulty has been slammed by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi as “unfair and irresponsible.”
The Indian government medical research agency that is dealing with the coronavirus outbreak has said it planned to return the test kits to the two Chinese firms from where they were procured and asked health authorities across the country to stop using them due to “wide variations” in their performance.
India had procured half a million antibody test kits earlier this month in a bid to ramp up testing amid concerns that its fight to slow the pandemic is being hampered by extremely low levels of testing. They are meant to detect antibodies in people who may have had the infection and were to serve as surveillance tools in hotspots.
The kits, which deliver a result in about 30 minutes, were tested by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) after health authorities in some states complained that they had an extremely low accuracy rate. They said the kits had been used on patients whom they already knew were positive for COVID-19, but the tests had shown a "negative" result for antibodies. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“The results have shown wide variation in their sensitivity,” the ICMR said on Monday.
In a statement, Chinese Embassy spokesperson Ji Rong, speaking in New Delhi, said, "It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as 'faulty' and look at issues with pre-emptive prejudice."
China was trying to help India fight the coronavirus with concrete action and it made sure the quality of its medical exports was a priority with manufacturers, according to the statement.
China said the test kits were qualified medical products which had strict requirements for their use, storage and transportation. “Any operation which is not carried out by professionals in accordance with the product specifications will lead to the testing accuracy variations,” according to Ji.
She said Beijing will continue to support India's fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
China has become the largest manufacturer and exporter of medical equipment and protective gear as the pandemic wreaks havoc across the world. China has also faced a slew of complaints from several countries about faulty face masks and protective gear sold by its companies.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India currently stands at 29,451 and 939 people have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases worldwide.