China on Tuesday expressed concern about an Indian medical body’s decision to stop using rapid antibody testing kits made by two Chinese firms, saying their products meet quality standards and are exported to many other countries.
“The quality of medical products exported from China is prioritised. It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as ‘faulty’ and look at issues with pre-emptive prejudice,” Chinese embassy spokesperson Ji Rong said in a statement issued early on Tuesday.
The statement came hours after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which plays a key role in advising authorities engaged in the fight against Covid-19, said state governments should stop using the rapid antibody testing kits from Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics after several states questioned the efficacy of the kits.
Ji said: “We are deeply concerned with the evaluation results and the decision made by ICMR.”
Both Wondfo and Livzon, she said, had clarified that their testing kits had been certified by China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), meet the quality standards China and importing countries, and had also been validated and approved by ICMR through the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune.
“The Covid-19 antibody rapid test kits produced by these two Chinese companies have been exported to and well recognised in many countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America,” she added.
Ji further said Beijing hopes New Delhi “could respect China’s goodwill and sincerity, strengthen communication timely with relevant Chinese companies based on facts, and resolve [the matter] reasonably and properly”.
She said there are strict requirements for the storage, transportation and use of rapid antibody testing kits. “Any operation which is not carried out by professionals in accordance with the product specifications will lead to the testing accuracy variations,” she said.
Ji described viruses as a common enemy of mankind and said China will continue to support India’s efforts in fighting Covid-19, strengthen medical and health cooperation, and jointly work to overcome difficulties to safeguard the safety of people in both countries.
India has placed orders for hundreds of thousands of testing kits and millions of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits with Chinese firms. However, several state governments reported wide variations in the results produced by kits from Wondfo and Livzon.
The ICMR stressed in a statement issued on Monday that rapid antibody testing kits should be used only for surveillance, and said it had evaluated the kits from Wondfo and Livzon in field conditions.
“The results have shown wide variation in their sensitivity, despite early promise of good performance for surveillance purposes,” the statement said.
“In view of this, states are advised to stop using these kits procured from the above-mentioned companies and return them to be sent back to the suppliers,” the statement added.
A separate Indian government statement said orders from the two Chinese firms had been cancelled as their kits were “under-performing”. This statement added that ICMR had not made any payments so far for the supplies and the government wouldn’t incur any losses from the cancellation of the orders.
Wondfo reacted to ICMR’s decision by it was “surprised and disappointed” as its “SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Test (Lateral Flow Method) is one of the first tests to receive an import licence from India, and has been validated and approved by ICMR through National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune”.
“We are currently investigating the ICMR’s concerns with our products and will share more information when it becomes available,” Wondfo said in a statement.