SPAIN has bought 640,000 faulty coroanvirus testing kits from China.
The Spanish government purchased the kits from the firm Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology for mass testing to discover the true extent of the country’s Covid-19 infection rate.
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Spain has suffered a higher death rate than any country except Italy, with more than 4,100 people dying and around 57,000 infected.
There are fears the country’s health system is now collapsing under the weight of patients.
Analysis in laboratories revealed the new rapid testing kits only correctly identify positive patients 30 per cent of the time.
If 10 patients with coronavirus are tested seven will be incorrectly declared negative.
The tests are supposed to have an 80 per cent success rate.
A source told Spanish newspaper El Pais: “They don’t detect positive cases as expected.”
A microbiologist who analysed the nasal swab kits said: “With that value it does not make sense to use these tests.”
Madrid – the epicentre of Spain’s coronavirus tsunami – has now stopped using the tests.
The Chinese Embassy in Spain said Shenzen Bioeasy Technology “does not yet have an official licence” to sell medical products.
Zhu Hai, manager of Bioeasy, said: “I’m not clear about the situation. I still haven’t seen the report [from Spain], so I’d need to find out more about it.”
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Rapid tests can produce a result within minutes but are often not as accurate as other tests.
Currently, tests in Spain can detect the virus by using a stick inserted through the nose or through the mouth.
Analysis of the tests takes four hours to produce a result.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced this week that 3.5 million antibody tests had been bought – which will show if you have had Covid-19.
Speaking at Downing Street, he said: “We’ve now bought 3.5 million antibody tests that will allow people to see whether they have had the virus and are immune to it and then can get back to work.
“We expect people not to be able to catch it, except in very exceptional circumstances, for a second time.”
He added that a new testing facility in Milton Keynes had opened today to process the checks ahead of them being ramped up.
The finger-prick test, which detects antibodies to the virus in the blood, is able to determine if someone has or has already had Covid-19.
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Professor Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England (PHE), said plans were in place for “a million tests that people can do themselves”.
“In other words, members of the public will be able to take a blood test and send it back in the post and get that analysed,” she told the health and social care committee on Thursday.
“That is an antibody test that tells you if you have had the condition.”