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340,000 coronavirus test kits sold to Spain by China defective

Spain returning 9,000 coronavirus test kits to China after they are found to be faulty

Nurse demonstrating swab test.

Nurse demonstrating swab test. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Spanish newspaper El País reported on Friday (March 27) that the Spanish government has had to stop using 340,000 test kits purchased from China, after they were found to have an accuracy of only 30 percent.

As China seeks to position itself as the savior of the world during the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, using verbs such as "supplied" and "delivered" to give the impression that the totalitarian regime donated testing kits and medical supplies, another report has surfaced of a country dealing with defective Chinese products.

The Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (SEIMC) on its website announced that nose swab kits produced by Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology are accurate just 30 percent of the time, in contrast to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) standard of 80 percent.

El País cited a microbiologist as saying, "With that value, it does not make sense to use these tests." The conclusion of the experts who evaluated the kits is that they will have to stick to using the current test — the PCR. After a government meeting on the coronavirus crisis, Fernando Simón, director of Spain's health and emergency coordination, said that 9,000 of the test kits would have to be returned to China because they "did not correspond to what was included in the quality certificates with CE marking [the EU standard]," reported acta sanitaria.

The health ministry told El País that the Carlos III Health Institute had "detected a sensitivity that does not correspond to what is established on the technical sheet." Based on these test results, the Madrid city government has decided to stop using the kits, and the health ministry has asked Bioeasy to replace them.

Spain bought 340,000 of the rapid test kits, and other countries, such as Georgia, have made similar purchases from the firm.

The news came as Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa announced a 432 million euro (US$474 million) purchase of Chinese-made medical supplies, including 500 million masks, 5.5 million test kits, and 950 ventilators, on Wednesday (March 27), reported EuroWeeklynews.

In response to the reports, the Chinese embassy claimed on Twitter Thursday (March 26) that Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology is not on its list of "approved suppliers." The Spanish health ministry later issued a statement in which it said that the test kits had been acquired through a supplier in Spain, which had imported them from China, reported La Prensa Latina.

Earlier in the week on Monday (March 23), a Czech news site revealed that 80 percent of the traunch of COVID-19 rapid test kits "donated" from China are faulty, forcing healthcare workers to continue relying on conventional laboratory tests. On Sunday (March 22), a Malaysian blogger debunked claims that the 10 million surgical face masks being shipped to Malaysia from China are free.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn on Wednesday was cited by the The New York Times as saying that he is being flooded by hundreds of emails requesting rapid tests from China, but he said that the Chinese tests are simply not accurate enough:

Our institutes are testing these and looking at them, and they are not sensitive and specific enough. It does not help us if we have quick tests that deliver large numbers of false positive or false negatives. As soon as we have a quick test that is good, we will start using it.