The Polymerase Chain Reaction keeps the Silk Road safe

June, 8, 2021

The Silk Road Journal – by Mahika Ming

The demand for COVID – 19 testing is increasing ever since the infection was identified in 2019. All health facilities are struggling to their maximum to expand the ability to meet the rising demand. At the outset people had to wait 24 hours or more to get the results of a PCR test but according to Chinese engineers, they are constantly upgrading the technology. As a result in China it takes approx. three hours to get the results on average at present. In February 2021 the Chinese population celebrated the Lunar New Year thus increasing the demand for COVID-19 tests. China's capacity for PCR testing during the festive season 2021 rose to 16 million tests per day (110% increase than 2020 - ref. NHC, China). However, they managed to celebrate while keeping the virus under control and kept the economy engine running. An estimated 23 billion USD has been earned through the PCR testing conducted in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) during the Lunar New Year festival period according to analysts.

A Fire Eye laboratory (Huoyan) was constructed in the PRC within 10 hours last week to fight the COVID-19 in Guangzhou in the Guangdong province in South China. The new facility has the capacity to examine approx. 1,500,000 samples within 24 hours. Thanks to all that effort China manages to keep the spread under control with only 11 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases identified in Guangdong last week. Ruili city in Yunnan province last week launched the second round of PCR testing covering all residents of the city. The first round of PRC tests were done within two days in March for 300,000 residents. At a hospital specializing in traditional Chinese medicine, medical experts are already attending to treat identified cases keeping the pandemic under control. City officials also launched a vaccination drive to vaccinate all 300,000 eligible residents in about five days last week. On the first day itself a total of approx.126, 500 residents had been vaccinated as per city records.

Analysts believe that PCR test market within China will remain in the 2 billion USD value even in 2022. The BGI Group (world's largest genomics company) which produces PCR testing related equipment has so far sold millions of PCR testing equipment to many countries in Europe, Australia and the United States since 2019. Even though some are concerned about China harvesting bio-metric info (i.e. DNA), Chinese companies deny the allegation and reaffirm that they will collaborate more with research institutes around the globe to serve open science, data sharing and research for the benefit of public health in the world community.

The writer is an analyst with interests in the financial and sustainable development sectors with postgraduate exposure in the Far East (