NEW DELHI :
Test kits for the detection and surveillance of covid-19 cases in India that have apparently been found faulty had been procured by the Indian Council of Medical Research from China from Chinese vendors approved by Chinese authorities, a senior government official said Tuesday.
The comment comes as the Indian Council of Medical Research on Tuesday advised states not to use the testing kits for the next two days, saying it will issue an advisory after medical teams carry out field validation of the kits.
At a daily government briefing on the coronavirus situation in the country, ICMR’s Raman R Gangakhedkar on Tuesday admitted that “too many variations have been reported in results of rapid (anti-body) test kits and RT-PCR (reverse transcription – polymerase chain reaction)kits. We advise states not to use them for the next two days," he said.
“These kits will be tested and validated in the field by our teams. We will issue a clear-cut advisory in two day. If problems are detected in batches, we will tell the companies for replacement," he said.
According to the official cited above, the kits were directly procured by the ICMR but were from companies approved by the Chinese government.
News reports previously had faulted equipment purchased from China including personal protection equipment as failing safety standard tests in India. This had resulted in the Chinese embassy spokesperson in New Delhi to say that Indian firms and government bodies should only import equipment and testing kits from those vendors verified by the Chinese authorities.
Besides the kits imported by ICMR, some 550,000 test kits from China had come in last week and many more batches of kits were expected in the coming weeks. India is also sourcing test kits and personal protection equipment from other countries like South Korea.
India has been looking at scaling up testing and surveillance as it nears the end of a 40 day lockdown period and is also looking at slowly restarting economic activity. Cases of infection have however been mounting though the rate of infection has shown some signs of slowing. So far India has recorded more than 18,000 cases that includes more than 600 deaths.
India is not the only country to report faults in Chinese made protective gear and test kits. According to a BBC report last month, many European countries including Spain and the Netherlands had rejected thousands of testing kits and medical masks as they were found below standard or defective.