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China testing blunders stemmed from secret deals with firms

WUHAN, China (AP) — In the early days in Wuhan, the first city struck by the virus, getting a COVID test was so difficult that residents compared it to winning the lottery. Throughout the...

12/3/2020 10:01:00 PM

In January, thousands of Wuhan patients lined up for hours to get coronavirus tests, only to be turned away. The Associated Press has now found that the test kit shortages were caused by secret arrangements between the China CDC and three companies.

WUHAN , China (AP) — In the early days in Wuhan , the first city struck by the virus, getting a COVID test was so difficult that residents compared it to winning the lottery. Throughout the...

in 2015 with Tan’s institute.In an interview, CEO Li said the CDC routinely contracted with his company to make emergency testing chemicals. He said Tan’s lab at the China CDC had contacted him on Jan. 4 or 5 to make testing chemicals for the coronavirus based on CDC designs. He denied any personal relationship with Tan or any payments to the CDC.

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“We’ve been working with the CDC to respond to emerging new diseases for about ten years, not just for a day or two, it’s normal,” Li said.Their connections situated the three little-known companies in prime position in January, when a then-unknown pathogen was about to sweep the country and the world and change their fortunes.

_________The first step in making test kits is to get samples of the virus and decode its genetic sequence. This leads to test designs, essentially a recipe for the tests.In the past, such as withH7N9 in 2013, the China CDC sent test designs to laboratories across the country just days after identifying the pathogen. It also shipped along the chemical compounds needed – in effect the ingredients – for hospitals and CDC branches to mix their own test kits as soon as possible.

At first it looked like the China CDC was using the same playbook this time. The CDC had found the genetic map, or genome, of the virus by Jan. 3. By the next day, under CDC official Tan, the Emergency Technology Center at its Institute for Viral Disease Control

had come up with test designs.But this time, the government held back information about the genome and test designs. Instead, the China CDC finalized “technology transfer” agreements to give the test designs to the three Shanghai companies, according to four people familiar with the matter. The selection process was kept secret.

The CDC did not have the authority to altogether prevent other scientists with competing agencies and companies from getting samples through back door routes and coming up with their own test recipes. But it tried to stymie such efforts and stop testing from being carried out.

For example, Dr. Shi Zhengli, a renowned coronavirus expert at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, obtained patient samples on her own, found the genome from them and came up with a test by Jan. 3, according to a slideshow presentation she gave in March. But her lab fell under the jurisdiction of a competing agency to the CDC, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. The CDC barred her from obtaining more samples and testing for cases.

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“There’s no open collaboration mechanism,” said a public health expert who often works with the China CDC, declining to be named for fear of damaging relations there. “Everyone wants their turf.”Provincial CDC staff were told that instead of testing and reporting cases themselves, they had to send patient samples to designated labs in Beijing for full sequencing, a complicated and time-consuming procedure. Otherwise, the cases would not be counted in the national coronavirus tally.

“It was absolutely abnormal,” said a CDC lab technician, who declined to be identified out of fear of retribution. “They were totally trying to make it harder for us to report any confirmed cases.”In secret evaluations of test kits on Jan. 10, the CDC also approved only those from the three Shanghai companies, according to internal plans and instructions obtained by the AP.

The Chinese government finally made its genomes public on Jan. 12, a day after another team published one without authorization. That opened the door for more companies to make their own test kits. However, China’s top health agency, the National Health Commission, still urged medical staff to buy the test kits from Huirui, BioGerm and GeneoDx that the CDC had validated, according to internal instructions obtained by the AP.

The evaluations and selections of test kits were conducted with the knowledge and direction of China’s top health official, Ma Xiaowei,according to a CDC post on Jan. 13.On Jan. 14, Ma held an internal teleconference to order secret preparations for a pandemic, as AP earlier reported. After that, China’s health authorities relaxed the requirements to confirm cases and started distributing the CDC-sanctioned test kits. BioGerm began taking orders from provincial CDC staff across the country on WeChat, a Chinese social media application.

“We’ve been entrusted by the national CDC to issue kits for you,” Zhao said, according to a screenshot of one of the group chats obtained by The Associated Press.“Quick! Give me, give me,” said one staffer in the Sichuan CDC.But the kits from GeneoDx kept showing inconclusive results, the CDC technician told the AP, and eventually her superior ordered her to toss them aside. The kits from Huirui were also unreliable, and the only ones that worked consistently were from BioGerm, she said.

“The quality was not good. Bad, poor quality,” said a public health expert familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified to avoid damaging ties with the China CDC. “But because they had a collaboration with the (CDC) Institute for Viral Disease Control and… they paid a million yuan, they were on the list.”

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BioGerm’s test kits were more dependable in part because they used chemicals from Invitrogen, a subsidiary of U.S. biotech giant Thermo Fisher. Huirui and GeneoDx used their own mixes instead, with more unreliable results.Much larger competitors, including Chinese genetics giant BGI and Tianlong, developed their own kits in January, which were later found to be more effective than those made by the Shanghai companies. But those test kits weren’t endorsed by the China CDC.

“No test protocol, no primers and probes, then of course there’s no way to confirm cases,” said another China CDC employee who declined to be identified for fear of retribution. “And then, all of a sudden, you tell all the CDCs: purchase from these companies, now go for it. Then – chaos and shortage. Valuable time wasted.”

Chen Weijun, BGI’s chief infectious disease scientist, also said the early products recommended by the China CDC had “quality problems.” When asked why the China CDC selected the three Shanghai companies, Chen demurred.“You better ask the CDC this question,” said Chen, who collaborated with CDC researchers to publish

. “But actually, everyone understands what’s going on, why this happened, right? You can reach your own conclusions, right?”____________A day after the first test kits finally arrived in Wuhan on Jan. 16, the case count began to rise again. But test kits were scarce. Some other cities in the same province

, and even those were often flawed.Samples from 213 patients in February using GeneoDx tests suggested a false-negative rate of over 30 percent,a study by Shenzhen doctors found. A March clinical trial report showed that among the test kits certified at the time, GeneoDx was the worst performer, followed by BioGerm. In general, the rate of false negatives for COVID tests varies widely, from 2% to more than 37%.

Philippe Klein, a French doctor who treated foreign patients in Wuhan during the outbreak, estimated that about 20 percent of the tests turned up false negatives. Still, he said, delays in producing accurate tests kits are natural at the start of an outbreak.

“The Chinese did a lot in a short time,” Klein said. “It was a new test, so in the beginning, there was a lack of tests, of course.”On Jan. 22, the National Health Commission quietly removed the names of the three Shanghai companies fromits coronavirus guide

as preferred distributors. After the Chinese government ordered Wuhan shut down on Jan. 23, the three companies faced massive logistical hurdles to getting their tests in.On Jan. 26, officials set up a fast-track “green channel” for companies to get their test kits approved. The National Medical Products Administration approved test kits from seven companies, including BioGerm and GeneoDx but not Huirui. Li, Huirui’s CEO, said it was because his company was inexperienced in obtaining regulatory approvals for commercial tests.

But it took time for other companies to ramp up production and ship tests in, leaving Wuhan struggling to meet demand into early February and depriving many residents of treatment.Peng died on Feb. 19. His mother now passes the days gazing blankly out her window, sobbing and lighting candles in his memory.

“In the eyes of officials, he was like a grain of sand or a blade of grass. But in our home, he was our sky, he was our everything,” Zhong said. “Without him, we can never be happy again.”The same pandemic that killed Peng brought the Shanghai test kit companies and related scientists fame and fortune.

Read more: The Associated Press »

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RonColeman Every news organization that gave China the gift of propagandizing Americans should be shut down for good. In Europe we didn’t line up, because the test kit shortages were no secret at all. Only those who were incredibly ill could have a test after many difficult phone calls. The shortages and organizational chaos were caused by incompetent national health institutes and politicians.

While they are behind all this mess It took the US MONTHS to get testing running properly. Who Lmfao there are still entire regions of the US that do not have access to on-demand testing. Fuck outta here. gut punch how gullible the WHO presented/presents - seriously WHO ?! don't know how to process - loss of life across globe and mounting - the grief - there's no explanation, none

ClioDunn Greed and Corruption only lead to the deaths of innocent people. RonColeman Ummm. I think that this article is racist... Right? RonColeman You people are the worst. Gaslighting the American people to own Trump. Most people who don’t rely on the AP and other MSM outlets for truth know China has been lying and suspicious since the beginning of this.

China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention gave test kit designs and distribution rights exclusively to three then-obscure Shanghai companies with which officials had personal ties, the reporting found. --- ...imagine that. Trump said it, and you didnt believe him on purpose. That's racist how dare you suggest the Chinese are corrupt

Corruption at its finest, or worst. Why even though I hate Trump and hold him responsible for what's happened here, I never trusted the CCP. They are a corrupt dictatorship. Good reporting here. Proofs?. Thats toxic ngl Humans not 🐄 motherFudgers