Centre decides to withdraw faulty Covid 19 antibody test kits, cancels import orders from China

The government has decided to withdraw “faulty” rapid antibody test kits from use and cancel all procurement orders after it emerged that the kits from China were showing inaccurate results. “The kits will be withdrawn, and the orders will be cancelled,” said a senior government official, on the condition of […]

The government has decided to withdraw “faulty” rapid antibody test kits from use and cancel all procurement orders after it emerged that the kits from China were showing inaccurate results.

“The kits will be withdrawn, and the orders will be cancelled,” said a senior government official, on the condition of anonymity.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chief Balram Bhargava on Monday where it was decided to cancel all procurement orders and withdraw the kits from use.

Struggling to scale up testing, India imported the antibody kits from China. The first set arrived last week and was dispatched to various states. However, several countries reported problems with the kits, although China denied there were any quality issues.

The ICMR started analysing results from the evaluation of antibody test kits imported from China. Expert teams were sent to eight states following complaints that the test kits had generated inaccurate results.

“The results from the filed test by ICMR experts showed that they were giving inaccurate results. A batch of Chinese-made kits brought by the ICMR will be pulled as they have been discovered to be unreliable,” added the official.

The ICMR has been also under fire for procuring the kits at a higher price after a legal dispute in the Delhi High Court between the distributor and importer of Covid-19 rapid test kits from China unearthed massive profiteering and over-pricing in kits sold to ICMR.

The court observed 61 per cent mark-up on such test kits is on the “higher side” but “more than sufficient”, the Delhi High Court single bench of Justice Najmi Waziri disallowed a 145 pc mark-up from landed price of Rs 245 to ICMR’s purchase price of Rs 600 per test. Instead, Justice Waziri slashed price for every kit by 33 per cent from Rs 600 to Rs 400 per test.

The ICMR officials said the kits were procured at the request of the states. As reported by ET, a DGHS led panel of experts disclosed that the decision to procure antibody test kits was taken by the ICMR without enough consultation.

The ICMR had earlier last week halted antibody testing for two days after receiving complaints about inaccuracies. On Wednesday, it reiterated that the must follow the “prescribed protocol” and use the tests only as a surveillance tool for Covid-19 cases.

Source Article

Lois C. Ferrara

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