China sold millions of coronavirus test kits to the UK, which don't work as intended. The British government is now seeking a refund for those test kits from China. Professor John Newton, director of public health improvement for Public Health England, who has been appointed to increase UK's coronavirus testing, said the antibody test kits are unreliable for use on any patients who are not severely ill, which is a challenge.

China fails to deliver

Professor John Bell, the coordinator of coronavirus testing for Public Health England, reiterated the claims about the ineffective test kits sent by China. The UK government had ordered 3.5 million antibody test kits last month and most of them were sourced from China. None fo the millions of antigen test kits were fit for use, which sheds a bad light on China, where the coronavirus outbreak started in December last year.

Coronavirus pandemic

"Sadly, the tests we have looked at to date have not performed well. We see many false negatives and we also see false positives...This is not a good result for test suppliers or for us," Prof. Bell said in a blog post.

The UK has set a target of 100,000 tests every day by the end of the month, up from the current 10,000 tests per day. But the test kits sent by China aren't fit for mass testing, according to Bell.

Testing of NHS staff

Prof. Newton is focused on testing as many NHS staff as possible in order to get the staff back to work. For this, three "mega labs" have been set up for testing the NHS staff. He also noted that swab tests are a priority over antibody test kits, which only work better after a 28 days period of infection. The long-term goal is to increase coronavirus tests to 250,000 a day and anyone who wants to be tested can have one.

SARS-COV-2 virus
Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (red) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (yellow), also known as novel coronavirus, isolated from a patient sample.Reuters

But with the failure of China's test kits, people might have a wrong sense of immunity, which is more dangerous. Moreover, it sets back the UK's plan to increase the number of tests carried out daily. According to the Telegraph, the UK government is seeking refunds for the test kits it bought from the UK, which might suggest that it would rely on local manufacturing for now.

When China sent masks made out of underwear

This incident of faulty test kits is not an isolated incident. Recently, reports coming out of Pakistan said that China sent N95 masks made out of underwear. China actually duped Pakistan as its 'top quality' aid failed to be of any help for Pakistan. Several other instances, including quid-pro-quo deals carried out by China with Italy and France have come to light, which paints a bad picture on China's reputation.