Chinese pharmacies stock up Covid antigen detection kits as cases rise


Amid a fresh wave of Covid cases, a slew of pharmacies across China have begun to stock their shelves with antigen detection kits that provide faster results than nucleic acid testing, media reports said on Sunday.

This comes after Chinese drug authorities on Friday cleared such products for the domestic market, Global Times reported.

The National Health Commission announced that the general public will be able to use rapid antigen testing, a move it believed will be helpful in identifying Covid cases sooner as the country has decided to promote monitoring by using both “antigen screening and nucleic acid diagnosis”.

As a result, several leading chain pharmacies announced over the weekend that they had entered into agreements with Guangzhou-based coronavirus test kit maker Wondfo Biotech, a leading manufacturer of Covid antigen detection products, for the sale and distribution of the products.

A staff member at Guangzhou-based Dashenlin, a pharmacy chain in southern and eastern China, said that its physical stores are stocking the antigen detection products.

Similarly, a member from LBX Pharmacy in Shanghai reported that its stores received a notice to sell Covid antigen kits on Saturday, and the first batch of products will hit the market as early as Wednesday, the report said.

Further, Chinese delivery giant Meituan has begun pre-sales of the products on its site, stating that delivery would begin on March 20 for pre-orders.

The National Medical Products Administration on Saturday approved five Covid antigen self-testing products for sale, which will be used as a supplement to the standard nucleic acid testing to help fight the spread of the virus.

In addition to Wondfo, the list includes products made by Vazyme Biotech in Nanjing and Jinwofu Bioengineering Tech in Beijing, according to China Central Television.

As per the drug authority guidelines, the antigen testing products can be used by both people under quarantine as well as those that need to be hospitalised with symptoms such as respiratory tract infections or fevers, the report said.

The products can be purchased at citizens’ own accord and at pharmacies, online sales platforms and other channels.

A report by Zhongtai Securities Co estimated the market demand of antigen detection products may swell to the range of 212.4-319.2 billion yuan a year measured by annual sales.

Meanwhile, the Chinese mainland reported more than 1,800 locally transmitted Covid-19 infections on Saturday, including local asymptomatic infections.



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