The central government on Monday released a statement on the controversy surrounding the pricing of Chinese Covid-19 rapid antibody tests. The release issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare stated that the ICMR hasn't made any payment with respect to the supplies of the Chinese rapid antibody tests. It said that the government will not lose any money on the cancellation of the rapid testing kits from the two Chinese firms.
The ICMR, on Monday, directed states and Union territories to stop using rapid antibody tests from two Chinese companies and return them to the supplier after they were found faulty. The two Chinese firms in question are Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics.
"Because of the due process followed (not going for procurement with 100% advance amount), GoI does not stand to lose a single rupee," the release stated.
The ministry also said that it had carried out a tender process, receiving bids between Rs 1,204 and Rs 600 for the order. The ministry said that it had selected the lowest quote, Rs 600, for the order.
The government's clarification comes amid controversy around the Chinese rapid tests. A trial in Delhi High Court on Monday revealed massive profiteering and over-pricing by a firm in the Covid-19 test kits sold to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), news agency IANS reported.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday alleged a scam in the supply of these rapid testing kits to the government. The Congress also cited media reports on the pricing controversy. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel demanded a clarification from the government.
"The recent Delhi HC (high court) judgement has raised a pertinent question - Why was ICMR purchasing antibody test kits for Rs 600 per piece, which was imported for Rs 245?" Patel tweeted out.
Earlier in the day, the ICMR responded to Congress leader Udit Raj's tweet over the price of kits for testing the coronavirus disease.
"This is Fake News. Price range approved by ICMR is Rs 740-1150 for RT-PCR and ₹528-795 for Rapid Test. No test has been procured at Rs 4500. Any Indian company wanting to supply at lower rates is welcome to contact ICMR or Ms Anu Nagar, JS Health Research(011-23736222)," ICMR tweeted.
Udit Raj had tweeted a screenshot of a tweet on Sunday, which claimed that the Union government granted the tender for coronavirus testing kits to a Gujarat-based company at the price of Rs 4500 per kit when the same was being offered to it by 17 other companies at the price of Rs 500.