One of the jokes that has become a cliché sort of goes like this: ‘One of the most durable items that China has ever exported is Coronavirus’. Although China is one of the major producers of medical equipment, the negative publicity its products got in Western countries which are reeling under the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak has impacted its business.
China also tried to counter the allegations through its embassies and its friendly media outlets but so far it has not been able to change the perception in those countries. Chinese authorities tried to drive home the argument that there could be some misunderstanding in the use of the test kits. “I think the quality issue reported by some media has been politicized. They can’t prove the reported testing kits have quality issues, because the use and transport [of the kits] may influence their stability and sensitivity,” an employee at test kit provider Beijing Beier Bioengineering told the Global Times.
The Chinese have been trying to project their country as better placed to help other countries, the distrust against Chinese products run deep across the world. In the wake of adverse publicity in the Western countries, China has made it mandatory for all medical products to obtain a certificate from National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), the country’s medical authority, before they can be exported. “From Wednesday, or even days before, many products and materials can no longer be exported and are currently delayed at ports,” Li Hui, general manager at Shanghai Huirui Biotechnology Co, which exports testing kits, told the Global Times on Wednesday. But Chinese producers warned that such stringent measures would delay delivery of test kits. “The tightened regulations will no doubt worsen a global shortage of test kits supplies and may even push up prices,” Li said, adding that the cost of some test kits has already surged more than threefold due to shortages.
Given the current situation in Europe, the EU Medical Agency has relaxed licensing norms for test kits. However, Chinese test kit producers must achieve a CE labeling, a certification stamp that indicates conformity with health, safety and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area.
Meanwhile, Chinese firms have enhanced their production capacities to meet the global demand. China is one of the biggest providers of coronavirus test kits. “We are doing our best to share the anti-epidemic experience we’ve accumulated in China with the world,” a test kit producer told Global Times. The company said it has thus far provided test kits to 70 countries and regions around the world, including the US, where it has become the first Chinese company to gain emergency approval to sell its fluorescent real-time polymerase chain reaction testing product, according to a report in the Global Times.