Investigative report uncovers the scope of mislabelling of coronavirus testing kits and the impact of inaccurate results

SRT grantee the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has released an international investigation into the mislabelling of Coronavirus Antibody Tests in Europe and across the globe. The investigation was initiated by SRT grantee Investigative Reporting Lab Macedonia, and SRT grantee KRIK (the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network) have also collaborated on the investigation.

The investigation has uncovered serious problems with the global market for rapid tests for the COVID-19 virus. It found that at least three brands of rapid coronavirus tests released by European and US manufacturers are a relabelling of a popular Chinese model, which has been found in some independent trials to be less accurate than claimed, sometimes showing false negatives.

One of these three brands is Biozek, sold by Dutch company Inzek International Trading and manufactured by Hangzhou Alltest Biotech Co. Ltd. The UK government reportedly cancelled a multi-million-dollar order for Alltest kits after a review led by Oxford University found that Alltest and another Chinese brand failed to meet basic standards for accuracy.

Millions of these tests, however, are being sold around the world, often misrepresented as a product which meets European safety standards. OCCRP and partners report that “the same Chinese tests, under different brand names, have been used by health services and government authorities in countries including Spain, Italy, Great Britain, Indonesia, Russia, and the Vatican. Some have ended up in the hands of online retailers that sell directly to non-healthcare professionals, a practice that violates safe use guidelines. They have even been smuggled into Ukraine in a shipment of clothing.”

The report states that while buying and relabelling such tests is legal in the US and in European Union countries, misleading consumers and patients in this manner, is not.

Read more on the report here.

Update: Kimia Farma halts distribution of rapid test kits amid controversy over accuracy

Following findings from OCCRP’s report, PT Kimia Farma, a publicly owned pharmaceutical company in Indonesia, has temporarily halted the distribution of Biozek rapid test kits while it seeks clarification from the Dutch supplier Inzek International Trading BV on the kit’s manufacturer.

Kimia Farma has released a statement, announcing that it has “taken steps to ask for clarification from Inzek on the report and temporarily stop the kits’ distribution while waiting for answers […] Patients that have [already] used the kit are recommended to undergo further testing with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to get more accurate results.”.

Read more on this update in the Jakarta Post.

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