Mithran Suresh, Delhi
India and China are working together to ensure the quality of medical supplies, especially for personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and testing kits, given China continues to among the world’s largest suppliers of the items India needs at present, said Indian Ambassador to China, Vikram Misri. In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, Mr. Misri indicated that private companies in India should be discouraged from direct procurements without consulting the government on the bonafides of companies manufacturing the medical supplies, and disclosed that India is employing European agencies to verify quality assurances of these companies as well.
India has imported more than 500 tonnes of medical equipment from China in the past two weeks, including PPE, antibody rapid testing kits, thermometers and other essentials.
In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, there is considerable space for India and China to cooperate in controlling the spread of this pandemic. Initially, when China was at the height of dealing with the epidemic outbreak, the two countries had cooperated in the process of evacuating Indian nationals from Hubei province. India had on that occasion also offered and provided medical assistance to China to help deal with the outbreak.
Members of our scientific agencies have also taken part in videoconferences with Chinese government and medical authorities on sharing China’s experiences in tackling the COVID-19 crisis. There may be more such opportunities in future, and we will look forward to participating in them. Collaboration, experience and information sharing in this area would be useful as the situation evolves. There have been concerns about the quality of Chinese medical supplies. Tens of thousands of PPE kits failed quality tests, and the use of rapid antibody test kits had to be put on hold. Why has India continued with these imports despite these issues?
The outbreak has obviously interrupted our plans and our preparations for celebrating this very important and significant occasion in a befitting manner. We may thus not necessarily be able to undertake every activity, but it remains our intention to try and do as much as possible in the time that is available to us. This is a very important occasion and we remain committed to observing it in an appropriate manner. Both sides remain engaged on the issue, and we hope we can resume engagements at the earliest possible, whenever it is safe and healthy to do so.