China launches investigation into company behind faulty coronavirus test kits sold to Spain

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A Chinese government regulatory group announced Friday that it is investigating Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology, the company accused of selling faulty coronavirus kits at marked-up prices to countries like Spain and the Czech Republic in desperate need of them.

The news comes following complaints from Spain that about 70 percent of the kits it purchased were too inaccurate to be used to diagnose patients who were sick and stuck in emergency rooms.

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Bioeasy blamed the incorrect results on a failure to collect samples and use the kits correctly, adding that company representatives had not properly communicated with buyers on how the kits worked.

Spain's faulty test kits were purchased a few weeks ago through a Spanish supplier that imported them from China, Reuters reported.

A woman wearing a protective mask looks at blossoms in a park on a sunny day in Beijing as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), China, March 21, 2020. 

A woman wearing a protective mask looks at blossoms in a park on a sunny day in Beijing as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), China, March 21, 2020.  (Reuters)

China admitted that Bioeasy had not been licensed by the government to make them. However, the time and money Spain wasted on faulty supplies could have devastating effects on a country that is now in its second week of a national lockdown after cases of COVID-19 spiked.

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In all, Spain has bought $467 million in medical supplies from China, including 950 ventilators, 5.5 million testing kits, 11 million gloves and more than half a billion protective face masks.

Spain has the second-highest number of deaths related to COVID-19. As of Friday morning, 4,365 people had died.

Globally, 542,788 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and 24,361 people have died.

Spain isn't the only country dealing with faulty kits from Beijing.

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Up to 80 percent of the 150,000 portable, rapid-test kits China sent to the Czech Republic were faulty, according to Expats.cz, a local Czech news site.

While the tests can produce results in about 15 minutes, there is an extraordinarily high failure rate, forcing places like the Czech Republic to continue to rely on conventional laboratory tests which take a lot longer. The Czech Republic currently performs about 900 tests a day.