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E-commerce Platforms Make COVID-19 Self-testing Kits Easily Available in China

As China grapples with a new wave of COVID-19  outbreaks and the country’s highest case numbers in two years, the Chinese government has allowed the sale of at-home antigen testing products on the country’s biggest e-commerce platforms. Lately, five new at-home antigen testing products have been approved for home use bringing to 10 the number of self-testing kits now ready for order.

Initially, China’s National Medical Products Administration approved five COVID-19 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. To date, the number has now increased to 10 as another set of five new COVID-19 self-testing kits have been given approval.

Such an unprecedented move of making the products available for order online could be timely as part of the nation’s adjustment of epidemic prevention measures amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Prior to that, the State Council’s Comprehensive Team of the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism for Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia issued the “Notice on Printing and Distributing the New Coronavirus Antigen Detection Application Plan (Trial)”. The notice showed that after research, the team decided to add antigen detection as a supplement on the basis of nucleic acid detection.

Compared to nucleic acid testing, antigen testing kits are much cheaper and more convenient. The results of antigen testing also have a strong value despite the test’s lower sensitivity than nucleic acid testing,

– Zhang Wenhong, Head, Center for Infectious Diseases,  Huashan Hospital

Nucleic acid testing (also known as molecular, RNA or PCR tests) and antigen testing are two of the most common COVID-19 testing methods today. While nucleic tests are more accurate, they take time — at least 24 hours to complete. On the other hand, antigen tests can give results in as little as 15 minutes. That should make it an ideal prevention tool.

Indeed, e-commerce (short for electronic commerce) is making services and products a lot easier to distribute. Since the first sale happened online in the 1970s, the platform has had major changes. Online shopping has never looked back ever since that fateful day. Driven by the technological advances of the semiconductor industry, e-commerce is the largest sector of the electronics industry.

To date, global e-commerce is growing by leaps and bound, spurred by the pandemic. It is one aspect of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that is changing the way business is done in a monumental way. Valued at $3.351 trillion in 2019, online sales are expected to reach $5.5 trillion by 2022. All that means a lot of money changing hands encouraged by FinTech operators. As expected, fortunes were made during the pandemic with the richest billionaires on the planet getting the lion’s share.

China is no exception. Its e-commerce businesses have thrived during the pandemic, allowing people goods and services during lockdowns. The good news is the same online platform that people use to order what they want can now be utilised to curb a growing epidemic and steer them to greater safety.

Indeed, China’s robust digital economy have played a critical factor in containing the virus spread. Couple that with Beijing’s iron hand to manage its digital economy and it comes as no surprise the country’s economy is growing.

At the heart of the discussion for greater productivity, of course, is technology.  So, when the regional political leaders of the country met in their annual “Two Sessions” meeting, the latest of today’s emerging ICT technologies are top of the agenda. As reported on OpenGov Asia, China’s creation of a Metaverse Committee of late attests to this.


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