March 11, 2022
HONG KONG – For worried Hong Kong residents rushing to buy COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits from pharmacies, retailers, online stores and popular chemists, the consumer watchdog has set up a search tool to help them make informed decisions.
The Consumer Council of Hong Kong launched the online search tool Wednesday at a time when thousands, including those with early or mild coronavirus symptoms, are unable to verify the authenticity of available antigen tests, or whether they comply with standards.
The Consumer Council of Hong Kong launched the online search tool Wednesday at a time when thousands, including those with early or mild coronavirus symptoms, are unable to verify the authenticity of available antigen tests, or whether they comply with standards
Gilly Wong Fung-han, the Consumer Council chief executive, said that some “suspected counterfeit products” and “substandard” kits are being sold.
The council also said that, in Hong Kong, “there is no specific legislation that regulates the manufacture, import, export and sale of medical devices”, including RATs.
If in doubt, buyers should ask “the trader or the labeled agent or manufacturer” and if “the reply is unsatisfactory, do not purchase the product”, the council said.
Antigen test kits provide a result in about 20 minutes, or less.
Among kits available in Hong Kong are those made in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere. Even convenience stores sell antigen test kits.
Some test kits claim on their label to be certified by the European Union, despite not being listed in the EU’s Common List of COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests.
A search on the website of a popular Hong Kong chemist turned up a Hong Kong-made test kit that claims to have the European Union’s ‘CE’ mark. It promises “a soft nasal swab” and costs HK$120 ($15). A Singapore-made kit (HK$80), assures “a long shelf life”, and that it can detect the Delta and Omicron variants.
One test kit checked through the consumer watchdog’s search tool showed up a specificity of 99.02 percent, but on the e-commerce site of the Hong Kong chemist, it advertises a specificity of 100 percent.
Specificity refers to the probability of testing negative if the virus is not present in the person who took the test.
Another search for a product seen online and sold at a convenience store, and which claims a ‘CE’ mark, did not turn up any result on the Consumer Council site. The HK$108 antigen test claims to be “reliable”.
On Tuesday, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region task force said it received more than 29 million rapid antigen test kits. More than 12 million of the kits have been distributed to frontline anti-pandemic personnel, COVID-19 patients, people undergoing home quarantine as well as specified high-risk and target groups.