China tells factories to prioritise government Covid orders

Local governments across China have begun requisitioning rapid test kits, face masks and cold and fever medicine produced in factories in their regions, in a battle to get supplies to deal with the flood of coronavirus infections that followed the country’s zero-Covid release. policy.

Ten Chinese companies, which produce everything from Ibuprofen to Covid-19 test kits, in recent days have issued statements or confirmed in interviews that all their production will be sent to government groups rather than fulfilling private orders.

“It’s a sad situation, but it’s individual,” said an official in the eastern city of Nanjing, where four manufacturers of Covid-19 test kits have been asked to report their production to the government and prioritize domestic customers.

“We have been waiting a long time for the easing of the Covid regime, but the relaxation was so sudden that local governments, health systems and companies in the supply chain are not prepared,” he said.

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Some regions, such as China’s nimble hub, Zhejiang province in the east, are better equipped than other provinces within the country to cope with the situation.

Xu Xiaoyue, deputy director of Zhejiang’s economic department, said last week that 22 medical providers in the region are operating their production lines under government supervision to increase production and metal issues, adding that this has helped increase the province’s production of antigen testing equipment. by 76 percent per week.

Orient Gene Biotech, a manufacturer of testing equipment in Huzhou city, is another company under government supervision: “The local government has sent officials to our factories to check production, making sure it’s going well and the products go online for shipment,” said a sales representative who asked not to be named. English, Joey.

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All of the company’s products were in demand. “I’m sorry, but we have to say no [to new orders],” he said.

Nearby Chaomei Daily Chemicals was issued a demand on December 14 by the city government to prepare the production of 1.65 million face masks for “Zhejiang’s 2022 plan stockpile”, according to a notice provided to the Financial Times by a company employee.

The next day a major producer of Ibuprofen in Fujian province, just south of Zhejiang, informed customers that it would prioritize domestic orders. Officials “clearly asked that we have to meet the needs of the market in Fujian as soon as possible,” said a notice that Pacific Pharmaceutical issued to customers and seen by the FT.

The shortage of rapid testing equipment for Covid-19 has become more difficult as demand from consumers has increased for home testing. China’s National Medical Products Administration has licensed the kits to 42 manufacturers, but the manufacturers are concentrated in a few regions, leaving most provinces without a local supplier.

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Zhejiang’s plan has helped ensure that batches of new testing equipment make it to local pharmacies. The provincial capital of Hangzhou announced on Monday the distribution of the equipment to 2,400 local pharmacies, but residents say they are still finding it difficult to find them.

“I ran to six pharmacies and waited half an hour” to get five test kits, said Qiu Yao, a technician in the city.

Qiu said two and gave them to the old man who arrived late to buy any. “He was obviously very ill and had a fever,” he said. “I keep the rest for emergencies, like I need test results to apply for sick leave.”

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