India paid double for Chinese rapid antibody testing for corona viruses, which have been suspended in many countries for poor results.
The Indian distributor Real Metabolics sold the COVID-19 test kits to the government at an inflated price. This is the result of a lawsuit between the distributor and the importer that went to the Delhi Supreme Court.
The government ordered five lakh rapid antibody test kits from the Chinese company Wondfo through the Indian Medical Research Council (ICMR) on March 27. NDTV accessed the order signed between ICMR – the hub for India’s coronavirus response – and Aark Pharmaceuticals.
On April 16, the Indian Ambassador to China, Vikram Misri, tweeted that 650,000 kits, including rapid antibody tests and RNA extraction kits, were being sent to India.
#IndiaFightsCorona virus A total of 650,000 kits, including rapid antibody tests and RNA extraction kits, were shipped from Guangzhou Airport this morning #India | # 2019-nCoV#StayHomeSaveLives@MEAIndia@ HarshShringla@ DrSJaishankar
– Vikram Misri (@VikramMisri) April 16, 2020
The test kits were purchased from the importer Matrix for 245 rupees each from China. However, distributors Real Metabolics and Aark Pharmaceuticals sold the same kits to the government for 600 rupees each, which is a 60 percent premium.
The problems started when the Tamil Nadu government procured the Chinese kits for 600 rupees each from the same importer, Matrix, through another distributor, Shan Biotech. NDTV accessed the order signed between Tamil Nadu and Shan Biotech.
Real Metabolics then went to the High Court, claiming to be the exclusive distributor for the kits imported from Matrix, and accused him of hiring another distributor (Shan Biotech) for Tamil Nadu in violation of the agreement.
When hearing the dispute, the court found that the premium was “on the higher side” and ordered the price of the kits to be reduced to Rs 400 per kit.
“The economy has practically come to a standstill for a month. There is an element of unrest that affects our own security. So that people can be sure that the pandemic is under control, that governments can ensure that those involved in the front line fight Authorities take protective measures. ” For human health, more kits / tests should be made available at the lowest cost to be able to perform extensive tests across the country. The public interest must outweigh the private gain. The disputes between the parties should give way to the greater public good. In view of the above, the kits / tests should be sold at a price that does not exceed Rs 400 / including GST, “said the High Court.
NDTV asked ICMR for an answer because the government bought overpriced kits. The state research center still has to react.
Last week, ICMR stopped using the Wondfo test kits after several states complained.
Three states refused to use the kits and complained about errors. Rajasthan said only 5.4 percent of the tests were found to be effective. The ICMR then asked states to stop using the rapid test kits for two days.
Beijing has denied that the kits are of poor quality. The ICMR was against the widespread rapid tests and endorsed its use only as a screening method in hotspots. Sources said it gave way after pressure from states that wanted to do more testing.