A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident for nucleic acid testing in Haidian district of Beijing’s capital, Beijing, May 3, 2022. Beijing’s 12 districts have started three rounds of nucleic acid screening on a daily basis from Tuesday to Thursday. Succession to prevent a COVID-19 resurgence. Photo: Xinhua
As the May Day holiday comes to an end, the reagent testing industry, which plays a key role in epidemic prevention and control, has seen unprecedented demand, with more than 20 million people seeking nucleic acid testing in some first-tier cities such as Beijing. Sample taken. same day.
Industry insiders said the mass screening serves as a reflection of the maturity of domestic test production and supply, as well as an indication of the government’s support policies and coordination capabilities, which are unparalleled in many parts of the world, including the US.
On Wednesday, the last day of the May Day holiday, Beijing set up 43,000 sampling personnel and 130,000 support personnel, testing 20.55 million people, as the country ramped up efforts to ensure epidemic control.
South China’s Guangzhou also led the trend on Wednesday with 19.31 million tests in a single day, supporting 7,832 testing spots and more than 50,000 medical personnel.
Driven by demand, Sansur Biotech, a home test kit manufacturing company in Changsha in central China’s Hunan province, told the Global Times on Friday that its daily production of nucleic acid reagents has now reached 10 million doses, up from 3 million last August. It’s a huge increase. Year.
The company exports test kits to 160 countries and regions, including the US and some European countries.
In order to meet the current needs of reagents at home and abroad, the company is adjusting the production of both nucleic acid reagents or antigen reagents depending on the need of the market.
According to the company, “we can expand production at any time as per demand to ensure anti-epidemic needs.” The mass production and testing in such a short time shows that China’s testing industry is growing, capable of responding to the huge market. Bai Yu, president of the Medical Appliances Branch of the China Medical Pharmaceutical Materials Association, told the Global Times on Friday.
The price of nucleic acid testing kits fell from 200 yuan ($29.9) per person during the outbreak in Wuhan in early 2020 to the current 20 yuan on average. Experts said the mass production enables China to produce test kits at a lower cost across the global spectrum.
According to media reports, private clinics in the pandemic-hit US often charge $100 or more for each nucleic acid test, but in many parts of China, the price is only around a few dollars due to government support.
For example, since May 3, the price of a single-sample test of coronavirus nucleic acid in Beijing has been reduced from 24.90 yuan to 19.70 yuan per sample, in accordance with government regulation, and the price of the mixed test has been reduced simultaneously. Has been. 3.40 yuan per sample, much lower than the prices in the US market.
The prices of antigen tests for COVID19 are also competitive. While antigen tests at a pharmacy or supermarket in the US can cost around $15, antigen tests for COVID-19 cost no more than 5 yuan per person as requested by the National Medical Insurance Bureau in March.
The government’s centralized procurement drives prices for antigens further down in many cities and provinces, while nucleic acid testing services are also distributed free of charge in many parts of the country, a trend that experts predict will expand further across the country. Will be done .
Although the US government is trying to provide testing kit services for free, the results are limited, and incomparable to China when it comes to the size of the population for testing, the mobilization work involved and the high demand for production and supply. Price, an industry expert told the Global Times on Friday.
More importantly, companies will not only look at profit margins but also the market size of their products, the insider said.
Since the outbreak, China has completed about 11.5 billion nucleic acid tests, according to Li Jinming, deputy director of the National Health Commission’s Clinical Laboratory Center, on April 16.
According to media reports, 37 approved nucleic acid detection reagents across the country and more than 20 companies associated with the industry are behind this figure.
Given such a large amount, the number of nucleic acid tests in China reaches several billion doses a year. Although the benefit is a bit slim, the overall benefit is still huge, experts said.
While there are no official figures on the production capacity of domestic test kits, the low market price suggests the fact that domestic reagent production capacity is in surplus, Bai said.
“The test kit industry is now like a mask in terms of production capacity, which should be enough for both domestic and foreign,” Bai said.
China’s home-made reagents, including nucleic acid reagents and antigen reagent products, account for 60-80 percent of the market share in the US and Europe, which play the main force in supplying the world market, said Cai Tianzhi, deputy secretary general of China’s drugs and health products. The Chamber of Commerce for Imports and Exports of the U.S. told the Global Times on Friday.
From the perspective of export markets, domestically produced reagents for COVID-19 were mainly sold to China’s Hong Kong SAR, the US, Canada, Australia and Japan, with imports from these five countries and regions exceeding 1 billion yuan More were imported. media report.