China’s BGI wins 1.5 million coronavirus test kit order from Ethiopia

Beijing – Ethiopia has agreed to purchase 1.5 million coronavirus testing kits that will be manufactured at a factory in the African country that has been newly built by China’s BGI Group, China’s state media agency Xinhua said late on Tuesday.

The BGI factory, the first coronavirus test production facility in Ethiopia that opened earlier this month, is designed to be able to make 6-8 million tests in a year and can expand the annual capacity to up to 10 million in accordance with local demand, Xinhua reported.

BGI, which makes genome sequencing and medical devices, is hoping to use its footprint in Ethiopia in expanding its supplies to other African countries, Xinhua quoted a BGI official as saying in a separate report on Wednesday.

BGI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

BGI Group’s unit BGI Genomics had said it supplied over 35 million coronavirus testing kits overseas and built 58 labs in 18 countries as of June 30.

The Ethiopia factory could be later converted to make test kits for HIV, malaria and tuberculosis once the Covid-19 pandemic ends, Xinhua said.

Ethiopia, one of the countries that has the most new daily infections on average in Africa, has reported 69,709 infections and 1,108 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.