Health Care

U.K. Purchased Millions of Unreliable Coronavirus Tests from China

A member of the medical staff shows a used sample container at a test center for coronavirus disease in Berlin, Germany, April 6, 2020. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)

The United Kingdom on Monday revealed that all 17.5 million Coronavirus antibody test kits the country ordered from China are unreliable when used outside “severely ill” populations.

“The test developed in China was validated against patients who were severely ill,” Professor John Bell, coordinator of coronavirus testing for Public Health England, told reporters. “Whereas we want to use the test in the context of a wider range of levels of infection….So for our purposes, we need a test that performs better than some of these other tests.”

Bell added, “We see many false negatives… and we also see false positives. This is not a good result or test suppliers or for us.”

In response to the news, the Prime Minister’s Office announced it would attempt to get refunds for some orders.

“If the tests don’t work then the orders that we placed will be canceled and wherever possible we will recover the costs,” the PMO said. As of Monday, Britain had confirmed over 52,000 coronavirus cases and 5,000 deaths, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson working from the hospital after contracting coronavirus.

Britain has become the latest European nation to report on unreliable medical equipment shipped from China. In late March, the Czech Republic announced that up to 80 percent of 150,000 coronavirus test kits purchased from China were faulty. Czech interior minister Jan Hamacek said at the time that the tests could still be used if a patient had felt sick for a long time.

Spain was also forced to scrap a shipment of test kits from China after finding that the tests accurately detected coronavirus cases only 30 percent of the time. Currently, Spain has confirmed 135,000 cases with 13,000 deaths, while the Czech Republic has reported over 4,700 cases and 78 deaths.

China in mid-March also announced that it would donate medical equipment to Italy, which has recorded 132,500 coronavirus outbreaks with 16,500 deaths as of Monday. However, despite the announcement, China actually sold the equipment to Italy, and then forced Italy to buy back medical equipment it had donated to China at the start of the pandemic, the Spectator reported.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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