China defeats us in COVID-19 tests: US netizens

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/6 23:58:41

A doctor tests nucleic acid samples at a laboratory department of Shanxi Bethune Hospital in Taiyuan, capital of North China's Shanxi Province. Photo: China News Service

As inadequate novel coronavirus (COVID-19) testing has become a full-blown scandal in the US, some American netizens amazed by China's manufacturing and test capability of test kits called on the US government to purchase nucleic acid reagent test kits from China. 

However, Chinese analysts believe that the US government which has been clamping down on China's biomedical industries amid the trade disputes and attempting to contain China may not be ready for it, urging US politicians to start thinking about the health of its citizens rather than politics, as the virus knows no boundaries. 

US Vice President Mike Pence, who is coordinating the US response to the outbreak, finally admitted on Thursday that "We don't have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.'' 

His acknowledgement came after weeks of complaints from local residents on the strict test criteria for the virus, inadequacy of test kits and poor quality of the test kits. 

Pence promised that by the end of next week the US government would distribute kits across the country that would enable 1.2 million Americans to be tested. However, it seemed to spark more anger than relief from some Americans who questioned how the government can guarantee 1.2 million tests when the US has only been able to perform about 3,600 tests as of Wednesday. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday reported 149 cases of the virus. However, many believe what the government reported was just the tip of the iceberg, citing not enough tests and the slow response of the CDC.

On social media like Twitter, disgruntled US netizens criticized its government for being a complete failure while comparing China and the US on the test capability. 

"China makes so many kits and can test millions a week. The [United] States should buy from them because this administration is failing us," netizen "KittyHipoint" said. 

Some US netizens urged its government to pay China for the patent of the test kits and build kits themselves, and some asked China to donate test kits to the US. 

Three Chinese nucleic acid test kit companies reached by the Global Times on Friday said that they would like to help the US if needed, as China's test kits, which have been upgraded generations to avoid the previous incidence of false-negative results, as also used in other countries, and have been effective. 

Nanjing-based Vazyme Biotech Company has developed a high-sensitivity RT-qPCR reagent that could accurately identify whether the virus was the COVID-19 to reduce misdiagnosis, and since January 21, the company has provided a million test kits and two million raw parts for the test kits for hospitals and test kits manufacturers nationwide, Zhang Guoyang, human resources director of the company, told the Global Times. 

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on Friday that China provides 341,600 nucleic acid reagent test kits every day, which could fully meet the demand.

Many Chinese test kits companies have been distributing their kits to other major countries plagued by the virus, including Iran, Italy, and Japan. China's BGI Group, a leading private genome sequencing company, has sent coronavirus detection kits to about 310,000 people in 26 countries and regions, including Brunei, India and Japan, and is planning to send more to Europe. 

Lü Mengtao, operations director of Beijing Zhimed Medical Science, told the Global Times that although the ordinary Americans cried out for Chinese test kits, whether to introducing Chinese kits is mainly dependent on the US government. 

Some US politicians politicized the virus and were reluctant to introduce Chinese test kits for the purpose of clamping down on bio-tech sectors of China, its strategic rival. However, the virus knows no boundaries and the US move will undermine global efforts to combat the virus, Lü said.

Lü suggested that the US CDC strengthen cooperation with the Chinese CDC on research and clinical tests of test kits.  

Newspaper headline: Citizens' health above politics


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