On December 1, Chinese state media outlet People’s Daily published an article stating for the first time the weakening toxicity of the COVID-19 virus. Meanwhile, many local authorities across the country have successively issued new pandemic prevention measures in the last two days, reducing the frequency of nucleic acid testing and advocating for more antigen tests. This has triggered an increase in demand among Chinese consumers for antigen test kits, and resources are now in short supply.
Nucleic acid testing has been the primary basis for China to pursue pandemic prevention and control measures, and procurement of antigen tests have mainly been carried by government and institutions with manufacturers. According to a report by Cailian Press, many offline pharmacies in Guangzhou, Changsha and other cities have no antigen test kits in stock. A staff member of a pharmacy in Changsha said that this kind of product is currently out of stock. The goods can be transferred from the headquarters, but consumers may have to wait for several days.
In terms of e-commerce platforms, on December 1, results on JD.com showed that there were many products from different manufacturers on sale. According to a home-use rapid antigen test kit list on JD.com, the top three manufacturers on the list can accept orders normally, while others with a sales volume ranking fourth to 10th show “Out of Stock.”
According to industry insiders, there were not many antigen detection products purchased by citizens before, and the shortage in Guangdong is likely due to a short-term increase in purchasing by families.
In the past two days, nucleic acid detection companies represented by Nucleus Gene caused extensive discussion among people because of false nucleic acid results and irregular detection operations. Some netizens found that Zhang Shanshan, the supervisor of “Nucleus Huaxi,” a subsidiary under Nucleus Gene, actually served as the supervisor in dozens of nucleic acid firms, and “where there is her company, there is a COVID-19 pandemic.” These scandals have greatly damaged people’s trust and confidence in nucleic acid tests. Some questioned: if nucleic acid detection and mobile hospitals become commercial businesses, the pandemic probably will never end.
Regarding the matter, China’s State Council held a press conference on November 29, saying that “it will continue to strengthen supervision on nucleic acid testing companies, and serious violations of the law that issue false test reports will be resolutely dealt with according to laws and regulations.”