Chinese Biomedical Company Boosts COVID-19 Test Production Amid Rising Global Demand

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 10th April, 2020) A biomedical company based in Nanjing in eastern China's Jiangsu province has expanded its production capacity of COVID-19 tests significantly in recent weeks to meet explosive demand from customers around the world amid the global pandemic, a company representative told Sputnik on Friday.

"Our company sent the first batch of 100 COVID-19 tests to an enterprise in Fujiang province on Feb 17. As the epidemic spread into more countries, we have seen increasing demand from customers in different countries. We have expanded our production capacity to about 200,000-300,000 tests per day," Huang Qimei, a marketing manager at Jiangsu Superbio Biomedical Tech Co., Ltd. told Sputnik.

According to Huang, her company's first international customer came from Singapore in early March and more and more clients from Europe, North America and Southeast Asia ordered test samples from them in the following weeks.

In response to the growing demand from global customers, Huang's company also had to divert more resources and personnel to handle the booming COVID-19 tests business.

"I used to be in charge of legal affairs in my company. Now, about 200-250 of my colleagues in my department have all been reassigned to deal with the sales of COVID-19 tests. My company is also hiring more new employees," Huang said.

In addition, Huang and her colleagues also had to work overtime for at least 2-3 hours a day to meet the rising demand. While many industries suffered because the strict quarantine measures in China, Huang and her colleague are expecting a pay raise in the near future.

"Many of my colleagues have received additional bonuses. Hopefully, I'll get a raise soon too," she said.

Most of the initial orders from different countries were a few thousand sample tests for customers who wanted to find out how effective their COVID-19 tests were, she said.

"We have not received negative feedback from our customers. Although our tests are not 100 percent accurate, we can say the accuracy rate is about 95-98 percent," Huang said.

Huang added that her company just sent out 4,000 COVID-19 tests to a customer in Moscow, Russia. But she declined to disclose details about the client from Russia.

The COVID-19 tests produced by Jiangsu Superbio are serological tests that detect antibodies in the infected patient's blood. According to the product manual from Superbio, its COVID-19 test can offer test results within eight minutes.

Unlike the real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) tests most countries use to confirm COVID-19 cases, the serological tests are more useful in identifying patients who have been infected for at least 5-7 days when the antibodies begin to appear in their blood stream.

In late March, The Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany, announced plans to test blood samples from over 100,000 donors through serological tests to analyze how many of them had contracted COVID-19 previously.

Individuals who had been tested positive through serological tests could be issued a kind of "vaccination certificate" to demonstrate their immunity and allow them to be exempted from restrictive measures introduced to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, Professor Gérard Krause, head of the HZI Department of Epidemiology told the German publication Der Spiegel at the time.