Rapid Antibody Test Kits: Govt Says Due Process Followed, Won’t Lose One Rupee

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New Delhi: The Government of India (GoI) on Monday sought to make its position clear after questions have been raised over the quality and price of rapid antibody test kits imported from China and other countries.

“It needs to be stressed that ICMR has not made any payment whatsoever in respect of these supplies. Because of the due process followed (not going for procurement with 100% advance amount), GoI does not stand to lose a single rupee,” the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said in a statement.

“Procurement decision is being undertaken by ICMR when there is a huge demand for these test kits globally and various countries are applying their full might, monetary and diplomatic, to acquire them,” the statement mentioned.

ICMR’S first attempt to procure these kits did not elicit any response from suppliers, but its second attempt got adequate responses.

“Taking sensitivity and specificity in mind, kits of 2 companies (Biomedemics and Wondfo) were identified for procurement.  Both had the requisite international certifications. For Wondfo, evaluation committee got 4 bids and the corresponding quotes received were Rs 1,204, Rs 1,200, Rs 844 and Rs 600. Accordingly, bid offer of Rs. 600 was considered as L-1,” the ministry explained.

It was further mentioned that ICMR also tried to procure the kits directly from Wondfo company in China through CGI. However, quotation received from direct procurement had the following issues:

* Quotation was FOB (Free on Board) without any commitment on logistics issues.

* The quotation was on the basis of 100% direct advance without any guarantees.

* There was no commitment on timelines.

* Rates were communicated in US dollars without any clause for accounting for fluctuations in prices.

“Hence, it was decided to go Wondfo’s exclusive distributor for India for the kit who quoted an all inclusive price for FOB (logistics) without any clause for advance,” informed the ministry.

Following complaints by states which received these kits, the ICMR again conducted quality checks in field conditions. “Based on scientific assessment of their performance, the order in question (Wondfo) along with order in respect of another make found under-performing have been cancelled,” the government reiterated.

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