Companies receive official licenses for coronavirus testing kits
Updated 20:23, 19-Mar-2020
By Yang Chengxi

The streets of Shanghai are exceptionally quiet this Spring Festival. But this biotech company on the city's outskirts has worked tirelessly to develop a testing kit for disease control centers around the country. Since the genetic sequence of the new coronavirus was published on January 10, other companies have been doing the same.

But how accurate are these tests? The test developed by Liferiver detects the new virus by identifying three of its distinctive genes. The company claims that according to lab tests, their kits can detect the novel coronavirus in less than two hours, with 100 percent accuracy.

Testing kits like these are categorized as not-for-treatment medical devices, meaning they could be sold to disease control centers without registering with the authorities. But without a license, these kits cannot be sold to hospitals. Doctors in Wuhan have complained about the lack of supplies. But on Sunday, several companies, including Liferiver, received official licenses from the National Medical Products Administration, which fast-tracked the approval for testing kits for the new virus.

More testing kits is a step forward in combating the coronavirus. But great challenges remain. Liferiver recommends that the kits be used together with modern robotic machines to minimize human handling and the chance of infection among medical workers. But smaller hospitals do not have such top equipment. The government still has the critical task of alleviating the burden on doctors and nurses on the frontlines.