Covid-19: EU accuses China of engaging in ‘unholy war’ for sending infested, faulty kits to the continent
From China’s cloudy handling of the outbreak of coronavirus otherwise known as covid-19 to the surprise eradication of new infections, a major diplomatic war is breaking out against a country angling to topple the US as the world’s power.
This is as dozens of European Countries accuse Beijing of deliberately and indiscriminately engaging in what an unnamed Italian Minister called guerra empia, (‘unholy war’). A top French official called it traire délibérément ( deliberate killing) while a British official in the Prime Minister’s office said, “it’s a dirty trick that would have far reaching consequences for Beijing.”
China’s faulty test kits many already infected with the novel coronavirus have alarmed European Countries, with some officials referring to it as “another dangerous Beijing behaviour.”
In the UK where deaths associated with the virus is in thousands and tens of thousands infected, officials are foot dragging whether to use Chinese made kits.
The UK has allegedly bought over two million coronavirus antibody tests from a Chinese manufacturer.
Kits made by British firms are still being evaluated and would take days some weeks before nods are given for use.
Just like dozens of other European Countries, the UK felt a quick fix was China. That’s beginning to be her undoing.
Reports by ITV said half of the rapid fingerprick kits are being made by Guangzhou-based firm Wondfo and will arrive in Britain by the end of the week.
The other million, which are reportedly being held-up, are being made by AllTest, a diagnostics firm based in Hangzhou, the reports said.
Although, both of the tests – which the Government has spent millions of pounds on – are said to have EU approval and can be used in hospitals in the UK immediately but concerns are being raised with experiences across Europe of likely Chinese underhand.
This has made Public Health England to be delaying giving these Chinese made test kits the needed green-light. Several different kits that have arrived are still being evaluated to ensure they are accurate.
But within the British medical circle, there’s a big problem such that talks of refunds for what have been paid to the Chinese are already raging.
Professor Yvonne Doyle, PHE’s medical director, was forced to deny it was ‘dragging its feet’ in approving any of the DIY kits.
With countries already sending back defective coronavirus medical kits bought from China during the pandemic, early approval for kits from China may be hard to fetch, one medical doctor was quoted as saying. This is more as those already in the country have performed poorly.
Tests carried out by Oxford University researchers found many of the kits can’t accurately show whether someone was exposed to the new coronavirus raising concerns as how China tested her infected citizens.
This has been the accusation with several government officials in Europe alleging that this inaccurate results have resulted to many deaths especially in Italy, Spain and France that have relied heavily on Chinese made kits.
Multiple tests provided for evaluation “have not performed well,” said John Bell, a professor of medicine at Oxford and adviser to the government on life sciences. The home-testing kits are designed to look in people’s blood for antibodies produced by the immune system to fight the virus.
Many countries are hoping these kinds of tests can help grasp the true scope of the pandemic and reveal who has built up immunity to Covid-19 and can return to a more normal life, but they must be accurate.
Germany estimates such tools may be three months away, Bell wrote. It could be at least a month before the U.K. can find a reliable version, he said.
“Sadly, the tests we have looked at to date have not performed well,” Bell said in a blog post. “This is not a good result for test suppliers or for us.”
British officials said on March 25 that they’d ordered more than 4 million of these tests, which can be as simple as finger-prick devices. They said the kits could have been made available on Amazon.com Inc. and at pharmacies.
U.K. officials were hoping to turbo-charge the country’s Covid-19 testing, which lags other countries in Europe. Already, Spain, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have reported similar rapid-test failures. The U.K. will cancel orders and recover the costs where possible, said James Slack, a spokesman with the prime minister’s office.
While the underlying technology is sound antibody tests have been used for years with diseases including HIV and dengue fever — so far the ones developed for Covid-19 fail to pass muster.
The tests either show too many negatives, indicating people aren’t immune when in fact they were exposed to the virus, or too many positives, which suggests someone is protected when they aren’t.
“We clearly want to avoid telling people they are immune when they are not, and we want all people who are immune to know accurately so they can get back to work,” Bell said.
Spain returned tens of thousands of testing kits, while the Netherlands recalled half a million ‘defective’ face masks it brought from Beijing.
The 1.2 million Chinese antibody tests that the Slovak government bought from local middlemen for 15 million euros ($16 million) are inaccurate and unable to detect COVID-19 in its early stages, according to Prime Minister Igor Matovic, who only took office last month. “We have a ton and no use for them,” he said. They should “just be thrown straight into the Danube.”
Similarly, difficulties have cropped up from Madrid to Istanbul, complicating countries’ efforts to get a handle on the virus and re-open their economies.
This scenario is sending shock wave across government circle in Europe as to what Beijing stands to gain in all of this.
An unnamed official wondered why China could easily have manufactured those test kits and other equipment it used if these were not made before the outbreak of the virus. Noting that China needs to really “explain what she really know about the virus.”
A Spanish official in Madrid said, “there would be time to ask China for explanation – from the outbreak to exterminio (extermination) bid in sending infected kits to us.”
The U.S. is ramping up her production from test kits to ventilators to avoid being caught in difficult trap like European Countries.
An official in the White House joked during the week, “while China smiles to the bank, European Countries cry to the grave,” allegedly pointing out that China may be deliberately sending faulty and infected test kits to the continent to kill Europeans.
(Additional reports from agencies)