Covid-19: India gets 650,000 testing kits from China; looks to South Korea, France, US for more supplies
Covid-19 update: The 650,000 testing kits from China were despatched on two cargo flights against the backdrop of concerns about some earlier consignments from Chinese firms failing to clear quality tests in India.Updated: Apr 16, 2020, 19:27 IST
India on Thursday received 650,000 testing kits from China even as efforts were ramped up to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies from countries such as South Korea, France and Canada, people familiar with developments said.
The supplies from China were despatched on two cargo flights against the backdrop of concerns about some earlier consignments from Chinese firms failing to clear quality tests in India. The people cited above, speaking on condition of anonymity, said steps are being taken to source goods only from companies that fulfil the requirements for exports from China.
The Indian embassy in Beijing tweeted that “it is important to ensure product quality as well as reasonable and stable prices”. It called on China’s National Medical Products Administration to expedite registration of Chinese firms, especially those with export orders and already licenced by Indian regulatory bodies.
Thursday’s consignment was part of 1.5 million testing kits to be procured from Chinese firms over the next two weeks.
The external affairs ministry has been coordinating the government’s efforts to acquire vital supplies from other countries, including identifying suppliers, obtaining quotations, and coordinating with clearing agents, airlines and local authorities to ensure timely deliveries, the people said.
“As part of these efforts, the first lot of 300,000 rapid antibody testing kits from Guangzhou Wondfo and another 250,000 from Zhuhai Livzon, and 100,000 RNA extraction kits from MGI Shenzhen were cleared by customs late on Wednesday night,” said one of the people cited above.
“Our missions are closely coordinating with concerned agencies for the supply of PPE kits. A large consignment is expected shortly,” a second person said.
The external affairs ministry is also working to obtain testing kits from South Korea. “Firm quotations have been obtained from companies in Canada, France, Malaysia, the UK and the US. We have also obtained leads from companies in Germany and Japan,” the second person added.
The people said the Indian missions are facing several challenges in acquiring medical supplies, including a general shortage in other countries and local regulations. For instance, they said, the embassy in Beijing and the consulate in Guongzhou had to make special efforts with Chinese authorities for customs clearance and clearances for non-scheduled flights that transported the 650,000 testing kits.
“But now supplies of vital items required for our Covid-19 response are well underway,” the second person said.
On Tuesday, India’s ambassador to China, Vikram Misri, told reporters that facilitating India’s imports of Covid-19-related critical medical equipment and keeping the drug production supply chain open would be the “best” signal from China for bilateral ties.
Chinese companies have been contracted for nearly 15 million PPE kits and 1.5 million rapid testing kits by the Indian government and private firms.
However, several countries have criticised the quality of critical equipment made in China in recent weeks. In late March, the Netherlands, Spain, the Czech Republic and Turkey reported medical supplies from China had failed quality tests.
China then hurriedly moved to ensure the quality of medical exports. China’s commerce ministry, the customs authority, and the National Medical Products Administration issued new regulations on March 31, directing manufacturers to provide a declaration that their goods meet the quality-control standards of export destinations.