The tests began reaching American mailboxes last week and the “made in China” label is raising eyebrows and ire. The tests come from iHealth Labs, a subsidiary of Chinese medical gear manufacturer Andon Health.
Chinese leaders are also treating the awarded contract as a sort of “propaganda win”. An article for the Global Times, a state-run communist publication, used the contract award to highlight America’s dependence on China to manufacture basic health care needs.
Since December, the company has won contracts worth over $2.1 billion with the federal government under Biden and some states, according to Andon’s filings and federal contract records.
Roughly $1.8 billion of the amount came from the Department of Defense (DOD) for the White House rollout. The department awarded two contracts to the lab on Jan. 13 and Jan. 26 respectively, which would bring over 354 million Chinese-made kits—or about a third of the total—to American homes.
The White House states that, as of the end of last week, 60 million U.S. households have ordered the free test kits through the government’s new website, covidtests.gov. The order typically ships within 7 to 12 days, according to the website.
The U.S. reliance on China for producing these test kits—two years after COVID-19 spread out from the country—is a call for reckoning, said Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.).
“If we should have learned anything from this pandemic—it is that it’s imperative to break U.S. dependence on Chinese medical and PPE [personal protective equipment] supply chains,” he stated.
U.S. supply chain vulnerabilities came into the spotlight during the early months of the pandemic, when America’s frontline responders struggled for critical medical supplies and had to turn to foreign countries, principally China, for the gear.
Wittman called for the administration and the members of Congress to lead by example to advocate for the medical equipment to be made at home.
“We should be supporting hardworking Americans and businesses, not relying on unfriendly regimes,” he said.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) held a similar view.
“The fact that the United States is mass distributing Chinese-manufactured COVID-19 tests further highlights the need to bring back U.S. manufacturing for critical industries,” he said, describing it as a “national security issue as well as a national health security issue.”
The DOD contract didn’t specify iHealth Labs’ China connection, nor was the relationship mentioned on iHealth Labs’ website.
Speaking with the Washington Free Beacon, Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., compared the contract award to “paying the arsonist for helping put out the fire.”
Waltz reportedly believes America should not be reliant on a “hostile country” like China. “When dealing with any Chinese company, all funds inevitably fill the coffers of the Chinese Communist Party and that hurts our national security,” Waltz says to the Beacon.
–Metro Voice and wire services