Saudi Arabia inks $265 million deal on test kits, labs with China’s BGI

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/27 21:33:40

Saudi Arabia inks $265 million deal on test kits, labs

A worker tests equipment at a BGI Huo-Yan Lab in China. The Shenzhen-based company has built more than a dozen such facilities across China, which are a crucial part of China's strategy to fight the epidemic. Photo: Courtesy of BGI

A Chinese company will provide Saudi Arabia with 9 million coronavirus testing kits and six test laboratories, based on a $265 million deal signed on Sunday, greatly boosting local coronavirus testing capacity to 50,000 people per day. 

The Saudi government's decision to procure Huo-yan Laboratories - COVID-19 testing labs developed by Chinese genomics giant BGI - aims to provide tests for 30 percent of the nation's population within eight months, according to a statement BGI sent to the Global Times on Monday. 

Based on the contract signed between Saudi Arabia's National Unified Procurement Company (NUPCO) and BGI HEALTH (HK) Co, the Saudi negotiating and purchasing company must pay $124.64 million initially and the rest according to the progress of the project. 

When the contract is fulfilled, NUPCO will become one of the major customers of BGI in 2020, the company said. The $265 million deal is equivalent to 67.05 percent of BGI's last annual audited revenue.

"Huo-yan Laboratories played a significant role in Wuhan's fight against the coronavirus and have been proven effective," founder and CEO of BGI Wang Jian said, adding that the company is willing to share its successful experience in Wuhan with its friends in Saudi Arabia. 

The laboratories have been adopted by at least 10 overseas countries thus far. 

The six large laboratories in Saudi Arabia will include a mobile laboratory with a capacity of 10,000 tests daily. 

In addition, BGI will send 500 specialist technicians and medical experts to test the equipment and train local medical staff, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Such cooperation will support Saudi Arabia's coronavirus prevention and control efforts and solidify long-term friendly relations between Saudi Arabia and China, said Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported. 

Chinese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chen Weiqing said during the contract signing ceremony that China and Saudi Arabia are "real friends and good partners" who help and support one another, and they have become a role model for international cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus.

According to the Saudi health authority on Sunday, the country has recorded 17,522 coronavirus cases, including 139 deaths. 

Due to the holy month of Ramadan, which starts on Thursday, Saudi Arabia has relaxed curfew rules in some parts of the country from Sunday onwards, but kept a 24-hour curfew in Mecca, state news agency SPA reported. 

In 2019, the Saudi General Authority for Statistics said about 2.5 million people took part in the Hajj, which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lives if able.

In order to support Saudi Arabia's battle with the pandemic, China sent a team of eight medical experts from Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region to the country.

The experts also took medical supplies donated by the regional government, including surgical masks, N95 masks, protective suits, nucleic acid testing kits and infrared thermometers. 

Newspaper headline: Saudi Arabia inks $265 million deal on test kits, labs

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