ICMR cancels orders for Chinese test kits, says govt won't lose a rupee

Health workers collect swab samples from people for COVID -19 tests, in New Delhi. Photo: PTI
The Covid-19 death toll in India neared the 900 mark with total cases reaching 28,380, and Maharashtra alone accounting for 39 per cent of fatalties. This happened on the same day that Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) cancelled orders awarded to Chinese manufacturer Wondfo and another company for supply of rapid antibody test kits. 

The orders, made over a week ago, were cancelled due to underperformance of the diagnostic equipment. 

Maharashtra alone accounts for nearly 39 per cent of the total deaths and Gujarat for 17 per cent. The two states have registered the highest death toll from Covid-19 so far. 

As on Monday, there were 85 districts across the country where no case has been reported for the last 14 days. However in two districts including Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh and SPS, Punjab where no case was registered for the past 28 days, two positive cases have come up. 

Failed test kits

Meanwhile, ICMR has said that since it had not made any payments towards the supplies of these test kits it has not cost the government “a single rupee.” 

On Tuesday last week, ICMR had asked the states to stop using the test kits for two days after receiving complaints of poor detection and faulty results.

The kits of two companies Wondfo and Biomedemics were identified for procurement by ICMR since both had the requisite international certifications. 

ICMR had also tried to procure these kits directly from Wondfo but could not go ahead with the order since the company asked for 100 per cent advance payment without any guarantees on timelines and quoted the dollar price without any clause for accounting for fluctuations in prices. 

“It was decided to go Wondfo’s exclusive distributor for India for the kit who quoted an all inclusive price for free on board (logistics) without any clause for advance,” ICMR said. 

For Wondfo the lowest kid offer of Rs 600 was considered. The order was cancelled based on a ICMR’s “scientific assessment of performance.” 

“It needs to be also remembered that this was the first ever effort by any Indian agency to procure such kits and the rate quoted by the bidders was the only reference point,” ICMR statement said. 

India had taken delivery of 500,000 rapid antibody test kits from China on April 16, of which 300,000 kits were sourced from Wondfo. 

ICMR said that globally there is huge demand for these test kits and various countries are applying their full might, monetary and diplomatic, to acquire them.

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