Loot in the Time of Coronavirus: ₹600 For a Testing Kit That Costs ₹245 to Bring to India?


Loot in the Time of Coronavirus: ₹600 For a Testing Kit That Costs ₹245 to Bring to India?

India has paid double for Chinese Rapid Antibody Tests for coronavirus, a legal dispute in Delhi High Court between the distributor and importer has revealed. The importer bought it from the Chinese firm at ₹225 a piece; however the distributor sold it to the government at ₹600 a piece.

The court observed that 61% mark-up on such test kits is on the “higher side” but “more than sufficient”. It disallowed a 145% mark-up from a landed price of ₹245 to ICMR’s purchase price of ₹600 per test. Justice Najmi Waziri slashed the price for every kit by 33% from ₹600 to ₹400 per test. Loot in the times of coronavirus?

“The economy is virtually at a standstill for the last one month. There is an element of disquiet apropos one’s safety. For people to be assured that the pandemic is under control and for governments to ensure and for agencies engaged in the frontline battle to safeguard people’s health, more kits/tests should be made available urgently at the lowest cost, for carrying out extensive tests throughout the country. Public interest must outweigh private gain. The dispute between the parties should give way to the larger public good. In view of the above, the kits/test should be sold at a price not beyond ₹400/ inclusive of GST,” said the High Court.

The ICMR in its response stated that the range approved was ₹528 to ₹795 for the Rapid Test Kit. “The price depends on the technical specification of kits such as sensitivity, specificity, etc., rate received in tender, supply capacity,” said the council.

To cap off the disaster, lakhs of rapid testing kits that India procured from China have turned out to be faulty. About three lakh of these kits were sent to Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. The Rajasthan health minister said they were expecting a 90% accuracy rate but what they got was 94% inaccuracy. Only about 5.4% of the Chinese kits gave an accurate result and the rest were faulty.

ICMR then asked states to hold off the use of the Rapid Testing Kits for two days.

A minute’s silence for the Indian government that first saw the whole world procure faulty Chinese test kits but still went ahead and procured them from China that turned out to be faulty, and at the same time, paid double of what it cost, with money being looted in the process by middle men.