BRITAIN has asked China to refund the money it paid for 3.5m coronavirus test kits it ordered last month after it emerged that none of them passed accuracy checks after they were delivered into the UK.
Reeling under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, the UK is number six on the list worldwide in terms of infected people, with 84,279 of its citizens having contracted the virus. Of this figure, 10,612 have died, more than three times the number of casualties in China where the pandemic began, giving the UK the fifth highest number of casualties in any country worldwide.
In a desperate bid to control the spread of the virus, the UK ordered the simple finger-prick test kits from China but upon arrival, they were found to be defective. According to the UK Department of Health, none of the 3.5m kits ordered from mainly Chinese manufacturers in March passed accuracy checks.
Of late, several European governments have also rejected Chinese-made equipment designed to combat coronavirus. At the end of March, the Dutch health ministry ordered 600,000 face masks from China but they most of the did not fit and the filters were defective, while Spain also encountered a similar issue with testing kits from China, when 60,000 of them failed accuracy tests.
Slovakian Prime Minister Igor Matovic said 1m test kits from China were so inaccurate they should be thrown straight into the Danub. Also, Ireland issued an ultimatum to China last week after 20% of the £176m-worth of PPE it had bought from the country was found to be unusable by healthcare workers on the frontline.
Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School, claimed the coronavirus crisis had exposed how much the UK relies on foreign manufacturing. He added: “We are now beholden to a foreign maker who can drag their feet and supply us with sub-standard goods in the moment of crisis.”
Last month, the European Union’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell said Europe must be aware there is a geo-political component including a struggle for influence through spinning and the politics of generosity. He added that China is aggressively pushing the message that, unlike the US, it is a responsible and reliable partner.