Modi government has taken a really tough stance on Chinese COVID-19 rapid antibody tests. According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Indian Council of Medical Research hasn’t made any payment for the supply of the Chinese antibody testing kits.
The government had ordered the rapid antibody testing kits from two Chinese firms- Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics, but the kits boasted of an accuracy of mere 5 per cent, and in fact the Chinese firms have been duping countries across the world with these testing kits robbing governments of critical financial resources during the ongoing Pandemic and also derailing their fight against the Wuhan virus.
However, the Modi government has made it clear that not a single rupee would be lost on the cancellation of the faulty Chinese antibody testing kits. The ICMR has also directed all States and Union Territories to stop using these faulty kits immediately and return them to the supplier after they were found to be defective.
A Ministry of Health and Family Welfare release read, “Because of the due process followed (not going for procurement with 100% advance amount), GoI does not stand to lose a single rupee.”
This also seals the ongoing controversy within India about the Chinese testing kits. Recently, a trial in Delhi High Court revealed massive profiteering and over-pricing by a firm in the COVID-19 testing kits to the ICMR.
Rahul Gandhi being as pre-mature in criticism as he is again came up with overzealous ‘scam’ allegations against the Modi government. However, now the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has revealed that it had carried out a tender process, receiving bids between Rs 1,204 and Rs 600 for the order. And the lowest bid, that is, Rs. 600 was naturally selected for the order.
While allegations of the Pharma companies indulging in crisis profiteering by selling the testing kits for Rs. 600 after acquiring them at Rs. 245 from Matrix Labs have surfaced, the government itself has made it clear that no 100% upfront payment was made.
Anyway, this also comes as a major wake up call for China. The Chinese firms had sold similar faulty antibody testing kits for $20 million to the United Kingdom. The kits had of course failed to meet relevant standards.
The modus operandi of the Chinese firms has been to convince diplomats around the world about the utility of their medical gear and then get governments into making full upfront payments. Countries across the world, especially in Europe, are particularly desperate for medical gear and testing kits. The United Kingdom too had fallen for these testing kits and now the government doesn’t know how to recover the sheer money and time that it has lost to the Chinese firms.
China has already deceived countries across the world, and has been able to sell faulty kits to Czech Republic, Spain and the United Kingdom. Most probably, Beijing felt that New Delhi can be cheated too. Modi government had to go ahead with the deal given the bilateral trading equations as well as the geographical proximity.
But the Modi government had full geopolitical awareness. It tested the Chinese testing kits and when they turned out to be trash, it simply announced, “not a single rupee will be lost”. China was able to deceive countries across the world, but not India. New Delhi saw through Beijing’s shenanigans and gave it a firm blow by not making 100% advance payment. This is one lesson that the CCP will not be able to forget amidst the ongoing Pandemic.