Don’t use China kits, return them back: ICMR

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), on Monday, directed states and Union territories to stop using rapid antibody tests from two Chinese companies and return them to the supplier after they were found faulty. The two Chinese firms in question are Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics.

India does not stand to lose a single rupee, said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Monday in response to a clarification sought on the alleged profiteering by distributors, exposed through a legal dispute between an importer and a distributor, in the delivery COVID-19 rapid antibody testing kits to it.

ICMR said it had not paid advance to Rare Metabolics for 2.76L kits received so far, so the government didn’t lose a single rupee in the process. According to details provided in the Delhi High Court, the kits procured from China, the whose delivered cost was ₹245 a test, were sold to ICMR for ₹600 a test — a mark up of 145%.

The ICMR had cancelled the order on Monday after its chief Balram Bhargava had a meeting with PM Modi. Later, the council wrote to all states to only use RT-PCR kits to detect virus.

“The ICMR has again conducted quality checks on these kits in field conditions. Based on a scientific assessment of their performance, the order of Wondfo along with another make found underperforming has been cancelled,” it said.

Three days after 50,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits reached Assam from China, state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said those would not be used for now as ‘rumours’ have been spread about their quality, creating doubt in the minds of doctors and nurses. He termed it as “Baseless allegations”.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has already clarified through an official statement that no kit was rejected, he told a press conference.

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