We Need to Ensure World Governments and Leading Organisations are Purchasing Certified COVID-19 Rapid Testing Kits
By Dr Jessica Ocampos and Dr Mengmeng Wang, edited by Ed Willey.
Governments are being warned to avoid purchasing COVID-19 testing kits from uncertified suppliers, as news begins to materialise to suggest that many kits bought are ineffective and inaccurate.
It is clear that one of the most damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the rampant spread of misinformation surrounding the disease and treatment methods. This stresses the need and demand for evidence to inform the decisions taken by governments at this crucial stage of the struggle against its spread.
In recent days both this demand for clear evidence and the issue of misinformation have become manifest once again with regard to the huge orders placed by organisations and governments across the world for testing kits of SARS-CoV-2 virus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the causative virus of COVID-19). News is beginning to trickle out from various countries, including Spain, the Czech Republic that the testing kits they have been purchasing in the tens of thousands are ineffective in diagnosing the disease.
Putting aside that this is a backwards step in terms of the ongoing fight against COVID-19, it has been disheartening to witness the media reaction in many of these places as disregarding an evidence-based approach, something that will be vital if we are to minimise the negative effects of the current pandemic. As specialists in biotechnology with years of experience in Cambridge, UK, China and Latin America, we feel that we have a responsibility to alert the public to this misinformation, giving people the tools to make informed decisions for themselves.
According to information released by the Chinese National Medical Products Administration (NMPA [formerly the CFDA]), as of today, the NMPA has approved a total of 11 COVID-19 PCR test kits and 8 rapid antibody tests (Chinese source).
Bioeasy Biotechnology, the Shenzhen company listed in our sources as the supplier of the rapid tests in Spain, is not on this list, and is thus not a certified supplier of testing kits for COVID-19. This has been actually warned from the Chinese government to the Spanish government (source in Spanish). While those claiming to supply testing kits may have a CE mark, allowing them to import and sell their products in Europe, this does not necessarily mean that they have clinical trial data behind them; rather, this would require them to have FDA or NMPA approval.
So, then, questions remain: how can we be sure that the testing kits we are purchasing are legitimate and functioning? How can we work together to solve this crisis, rather than be driven apart by misinformation?
With our expertise in this field, we can help companies, organisations, and governments throughout the verification process, with our teams in Cambridge and China working closely with both certified laboratories in Europe and in China, and with the Chinese government to ensure the authenticity and efficacy of testing kits. We are currently engaged in advisory work on COVID-19 tests across Latin America, and hope to be able to assist others further afield in the coming days and weeks.
If you are involved in the procurement of testing kits or other PPE equipment for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact us for further information on how we can be of assistance at this time of crisis.
You can contact us at:
Jocampos@camnexus.co.uk and Mengmeng.firstname.lastname@example.org
I am Jessica Ocampos, PhD in Chemical Engineering of the University of Cambridge and co-founder and CEO of Camnexus. I am Chilean but living in Europe since 2008. My passion for science and technology moved me work in several industries as leading engineer and then to Cambridge, where I did a PhD in Chemical Engineering of the University of Cambridge and then started my startup.