Diagnostics Startup from Hangzhou Undertakes Wuhan's Lab Test Demand
COVID-19 and China
China has updated its diagnostics criteria for the new coronavirus multiple times, now they have stuck lab tests only. Image: Credit to Pixabay

Numbers provided by Chinese authorities indicate that the high mortality rate at the epicenter, Wuhan, following the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic is due to the lack of medical resources, as the city recorded twice higher causalities than of the rest of China. 

Wuhan, where thousands rush to hospitals to get diagnosed, has been adopting numerous diagnostics measures from CT lung screening to various lab tests to alleviate the excess demand. 

Chain Medical Labs (千麦医检), a diagnostics lab chain, was commissioned by Wuhan's Huoshenshan and Leishenshan Hospitals to carry out microbiological and PCR project tests of the frontline hospitals that have been overwhelmed with the thousands of suspected but yet-to-be-confirmed cases. The startup's service has a strategic value in the sense that China’s top health authority had yet again changed its diagnostic guidelines for Covid-19 on January 22, stipulating that all confirmed cases must be determined using lab tests only.

The Hangzhou-based chain of diagnostic labs has been collecting specimens from Wuhan's frontline hospitals since February 2, the firm said in a statement. Those two 'pop-up' coronavirus specialized hospitals Huoshenshan and Leishenshan were built in less than two weeks, in a move to eradicate the virus using the heavy-handed techniques learned from the SARS experience.

Although fatal, SARS wasn't as contagious as the new coronavirus that has dragged Wuhan into an excessively under-equipped place for the demand of medical resources, even after the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and other institutions poured their medical and financial resources into the afflicted region. "Today, there aren’t nearly enough test kits available to keep up with the skyrocketing case numbers, and some parts of the world may lack enough trained laboratory staff to apply them." stated the Science Magazine, a US-based life sciences, and high-tech focused journal, in an attempt to decipher the current situation in China's Hubei. 

The market for independent medical diagnostics industry was already weak in China, even before the pervasive coronavirus. "China’s third-party medical testing industry has a penetration rate of less than 5%, which is around 40 to 70% in certain countries with sophisticated healthcare systems, such as the US, some EU countries and Japan." reported the lab chain's financial advisor CEC Capital — a Beijing-based TMT and healthcare-focused investment bank.

The seven years old CM Labs, another name of the diagnostics chain, has raised over CNY 240 million (the equivalent of around USD 35 million) in over three rounds from series of investors, including the healthcare-investment focused Qiming Venture Partners.

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