China Testing Blunders Stemmed From Secret Deals With Firms

Zhong Hanneng holds a photo of her son, Peng Yi, and talks about his difficulties in getting tested for COVID-19, eventually dying from the disease, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. “There were very, very few tests, basically none. ... if you couldn’t prove you were positive, you couldn’t get admitted to a hospital. ... The doctor said there was nothing that could be done.” (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

(AP) — Secrecy and cronyism crippled China’s testing capacity in the early days of the outbreak, an Associated Press investigation has found. The China CDC selected three companies with close ties to CDC officials to make the first coronavirus test kits – even as they withheld critical information about the virus from other scientists. As a result, other laboratories couldn’t test for the pathogen, allowing it to spread undetected through Wuhan for weeks. After the city was locked down, medical staff grappled with critical shortages of test kits, and many were faulty, hampering patient access to care.


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