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Were COVID-19 Testing Kits Being Sold Across the World in 2017 and 2018?

by Dee McLachlan

Late last night, I was sent this LINK on the The World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) Worldbank website. I opened the link and read this:

COVID-19 Diagnostic Test instruments and apparatus (902780) exports by country in 2018. Instruments used in clinical laboratories for In Vitro Diagnosis…

Category: COVID-19 Test kits / Instuments…”

Was this an error? I screen grabbed what I saw. Had countries across the world spent billions buying up COVID-19 test kits back in 2018 before COVID-19 was even a “thing”?

This morning I woke up, and more people had sent me the LINK. But by 9:00 am this morning (7 September 2020) the heading had been changed. It now reads:

Medical Diagnostic Test instruments and apparatus (902780) exports by country in 2018.

Comparing the screengrabs:

What in the world is going on?

And, what is The World Integrated Trade Solution? This is the introduction on the WITS website:

“The World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) software provides access to international merchandise trade, tariff and non-tariff measures (NTM) data. Browse the Country profile section to obtain countries exports, imports and tariff statistics along with relevant development data. Register and log in to WITS to perform custom analysis, using standard and derived product classifications.”

The site is extraordinary and one sees exports and imports by country and global trade data.

I had always wondered how quickly these COVID-19 test seemed to have been distributed after the virus was declared a pandemic. I noticed that even small remote countries were able to test their populations almost immediately. So it is starting to make sense.

The dollars involved are staggering:

The European Union spent USD 2,885,620,490 (that is 2.8 billion) on Covid-19 test kits in 2018 — before Covid-19 was even a “thing”. 

The United States spent nearly USD 2.5 billion; Germany nearly USD 2.3 billion. The earnings are just staggering — considering Covid-19 wasn’t in existence.

Australia spent USD 55,484,000. WHAT?

China spent USD 2,8 billion in 2017.

So many questions:

How were countries persuaded to spend so much on purchasing these kits (in advance)?

Who was manufacturing these kits in 2017 and 2018? (Updated list of 2020 suppliers)

Is this an error of naming?

Will FOI documents reveal what was on the invoices and statements?

Please explain!

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