Chinese embassy denies donating COVID-19 test kits with accuracy problems

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2020 01:08 PM | Updated as of Mar 29 2020 03:56 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Chinese Embassy in Manila on Sunday denied that it donated to the Philippines COVID-19 test kits that are only 40 percent accurate.

In a statement, the embassy said the test kits mentioned by Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Saturday were not donated by the Chinese government, nor were tested by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

"At this moment of crisis, we should fight in solidarity to overcome the epidemic at the earliest date. The Chinese Embassy firmly rejects any irresponsible remarks and any attempts to undermine our cooperation in this regard," it said.

Vergeire earlier said health officials conducted parallel testing using some of the China-donated test kits plus test kits from the World Health Organization while using a specimen or sample from a COVID-19 patient.

In its statement on Sunday, the Chinese embassy said it donated some 102,000 real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kits, which were assessed by the RITM "to be at par with WHO-provided kits."

"Those test kits are of high quality and standards and have no accuracy problems, which are being used in Philippine test laboratories and have helped accelerate the testing process," it said.

"The test kits mentioned by the DOH official on 28 March 2020 during the press briefing were neither tested by RITM, which did not receive any kit sample for lab validation, nor donated by the Chinese government," it added, noting that it checked with DOH after the reports came out.

In a statement released on Sunday afternoon, the DOH affirmed that indeed, "the initial 2,000 BGI RT-PCR test kits and the 100,000 Sansure RT-PCR test kits donated by the Chinese government have been assessed by the (RITM) to be at par with test kits provided by the (WHO) after parallel testing were done."

"The test kits mentioned during the press briefing by the Department last 28 March 2020 referred to another brand of test kit that was proposed to be donated by a private foundation," the DOH said, adding, “Upon preliminary review of documents by RITM, subsequent validation was necessary.

The agency said that to minimize the extra step of conducting subsequent validation, it was agreed that BGI and Sansure RT-PCR test kits be used for further donations.

"The DOH apologizes for any confusion that previously issued statements have caused," it said.

The Philippines has also received donated test kits from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, and from Singapore.

As of Saturday, the Philippines has recorded 1,075 cases of COVID-19, with 68 deaths and 35 recoveries, according to the DOH.

The fast spreading disease originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year.