As the U.S. struggles to obtain a sufficient supply of coronavirus test kits, a Chinese firm, Lingen Precision Medical Products in Shanghai, supplied contaminated test kits to the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSM), and they are being recalled.
At a cost of $125,000, UWSM obtained thousands of test kits and, discovered April 16 that some of the test kits were contaminated with Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, which was discovered in the liquid used to preserve specimens, the U.K.'s Daily Mail reports.
Geoff Baird, chair of the UW Department of Laboratory Medicine, said, "I've just recommended everyone who has these things, pause, and not use them at all. I can't say I'm not disappointed."
Some 35,000 kits were distributed to various health agencies, including Public Health-Seattle & King County and the State Health Department, which recalled 12,000 kits.
Baird noted he does not believe any patients were harmed, since they had no contact with the preserving agent.
State Secretary of Health John Wiesman told The Olympian, "Though the quality control issue has only been observed in a small number of tubes of viral transport media, we adhere to the highest quality standards for COVID-19 testing in Washington state. We are working with our partners to have them discard the product and will work to replace them as quickly as we can."
Baird said testing has found the contamination does not affect samples already taken and retesting likely will not be necessary. Samples of coronavirus were preserved in contaminated and uncontaminated preserving liquid and, "there's absolutely no difference," he said.
Officials were alerted when they noticed the liquid had turned to orange or yellow, instead of the expected "hot pink" color of uncontaminated liquid.
Seattle businesswoman Anita Nadelson, who arranged the purchase, said the Chinese supplier will refund the money.
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