Thursday, April 30, 2020

Flights from China still arriving in Sydney: Will the COVIDSAFE app be required if arrivals from China are banned ?

by Ganesh Sahathevan

Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants to see more Australians downloading his COVID19 app before the  premiers and he decide whether the lockdown will be lifted.

Meanwhile Australia continues to welcome arrivals from China who are likely, as a matter of probability, to be carriers of the WuhanCovid19 virus. 

The following details have been copied and pasted from Sydney Airport's Arrivals website: 

AF7843, KL4505, QF0328, KQ5210, MF9263, SU3988
On Time
Exit Hall
China has decided that foreigners should be banned from entering China in order to prevent entry of the Wuhan Virus. It is hard to see why Australia would not do the same, instead of demanding that its citizens download a tracking device.



Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Even Global Times China had doubts about BGI's WuhanCovid testing kit-Additional reporting on production suggests BGI may not have the capacity to supply Australia

by Ganesh Sahathevan

                                The Hunt&Forrest show needs further explanation

In February this year Global Times, The Communist Party China's English language daily, had this to say about the efficacy of BGI's test kits: 

China's genome sequencing company BGI Group told the Global Times that they could produce 50,000 test kits per day. Test results can be determined in three hours.

However, some medical workers doubted the reliability of the tests following reports that a patient in North China's Tianjin was diagnosed after four attempts: the first two results came back negative while the last two were positive.

We can't solely rely on nucleic acid tests due to existing errors, a doctor from the Wuhan Union Hospital who preferred not to be named, told the Global Times. "CT chest scans are more accurate," she said.

See also the production figures. At 50,000 units, BGI would require 200 days to produce the 10 Million test kits that Andrew Forrest and Greg Hunt say will soon be sent to Australia. 

BGI has been promising testing kits to many other countries (see BGI press release below), and even if Australia has been given priority over all other countries it is hard to see how BGI could have produced 10 Million test kits by this time. Producing that many kits at current capacity would require 200 days, which means BGI would have had to start production of these kits sometime in November last year.China insists it knew nothing about the Wuhan Virus until sometime in late December 2019.

BGI Group helping over 80 countries

for timely COVID-19 detection and

-More than 10 million RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 tests manufactured

-Test kits being distributed to over 80 countries

-Production capacity trebled to more than 2 million tests per day; set to rise further to meet demand

SAN JOSE, Calif., April 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Global genomics leader BGI Group has announced it has produced more than 10 million of its Real-Time SARS-CoV-2 tests, which are approved under US FDA-EUA, and is distributing them to more than 80 countries around the world. BGI Group is also helping partners to set up emergency testing laboratories in the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia, bringing population-scale detection and diagnosis of COVID-19 to the world.

Doctors with MGI equipment at AP-HP hospital group in Paris

BGI Group is meeting the demand for testing kits by trebling production and working with governments to launch emergency laboratory solutions.

MGI, part of the BGI Group, confirmed an agreement with the French Health Ministry to provide equipment and materials to 19 hospitals throughout France to enable COVID-19 testing of 2 million people, while BGI Genomics confirmed it will provide 1 million RT-PCR tests for diagnosis of COVID-19.

BGI Genomics is one of the few companies globally that has products recognized as officially approved for use in China, the European Union, the United States, Japan and Australia. BGI's RT-PCR Test for SARS-CoV-2 has been granted approval for emergency use by the US FDA, Europe's CE-IVD, China's NMPA, Japan's PMDA and Australia's TGA.

"The most critical thing for all of us at BGI is to help bring this pandemic under control. We are working with governments and institutions globally to achieve this mission," says Yin Ye, CEO of BGI Genomics.

BGI Group started out at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 in China and is now spearheading a worldwide response, deploying not only test kits but also laboratory robots to automate sample preparation and powerful sequencers to track virus mutations.

In Wuhan, BGI Group set up its first Huo-Yan or "Fire Eye" Laboratory in five days. This 2,000 square-meter automated Biosafety Level-2 PCR testing laboratory can perform 10,000 tests a day.

A comprehensive solution for rapidly scaling up diagnostic testing, the Fire Eye model is now being implemented around the world. The laboratories combine the best of BGI Group expertise. The laboratory equipment is produced by MGI, a part of the BGI Group focused on sequencing tools and lab automation.

Sequencing plays a number of roles in the fight against COVID-19, explains Duncan Yu, President of MGI. "It helped identify the virus that caused COVID-19 and can track new strains of the virus as it mutates and the speed of those changes."

In the UAE, together with local partner G42, BGI Group built the first laboratory outside China in Abu Dhabi in just 14 days. It began operating in early April and will scale up to handle tens of thousands of samples a day.

In Sweden, BGI Group has been working with the Karolinska Institute to build a Fire Eye lab in Stockholm. It will perform both virus detection and scientific research for comprehensive monitoring of virus mutations.

In Kansas City, BGI Group formed an innovative partnership with local business leaders and The University of Kansas Health System. The business leaders provided funding to help protect their local community and provide 50,000 test kits, along with lab automation equipment.

The BGI Group has a long history of responding to public health crises, including decoding the genome of the SARS virus in 2003, then developing the virus detection kit in 96 hours, and helping fight the Ebola outbreak in 2014 in West Africa.


Saudi's will get 9 Million test kits plus six labs from BGI, subject to progress payments, for just 25% more than Twiggy Forrest's special deal: Australian National Audit Office scrutiny required before any money is handed over for test kits that may well be inaccurate;Australian deal equals 60% of BGI's last audited revenue

by Ganesh Sahathevan


SHE: 300676


104.95 CNY −5.02 
30 Apr, 10:19 am GMT+8 · Disclaimer

Mkt cap43.39B
P/E ratio131.98
Div yield0.095%
Prev close109.97
52-wk high118.86
52-wk low54.32

Web results

BGI share price since listing in 2019

The BGI test kits that Australia has acquired may well be of doubtful quality. Nevertheless Australians have been told that they are lucky that BGI has agreed to supply them; the kits may have gone elsewhere for a better price if not for a  special deal that Twiggy Forrest secured for Australia on the strength of his relationship with China's BGI:

Mr Forrest said he was able to secure the kits due to his Fortescue Metals mining operation’s close relationship with China is one of Australia’s biggest buyers of minerals.
“We set aside $320 million to assist Australia any way we could,” Mr Forrest said.
“This was a business to business relationship, where capital was acquired immediately, deployed immediately and over time will be repaid by the Commonwealth.”

The Australian taxpayer will eventually pay AUD 320 Million (or more, if interest is charged, and adjustments are made for inflation). According to Forrest these kits were almost diverted to some other country. That may well be true, but compare the Australian deal to the deal between BGI and the Government Of Saudi Arabia which was announced at about the same time as the Australian Twiggy-Hunt deal (see report below). At USD 265 Million or AUD 405 Million at the exchange rate at time of wriitng, the Saudi deal is just 25% more than the AUD320 Million sale to Australia.

Note that the Saudi deal includes six labs, and is subject to progress payments.Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece has been happy to report that the Saudi deal is equivalent to 67.05 percent of BGI's last annual audited revenue.

Given the Global Times estimate the Australian deal is equal to approximately 60% of BGI's last audited annual revenue.This deal requires the immediate scrutiny of the Australian National Audit Office. 


NEW YORK ­­– BGI Genomics said on Monday it has inked an agreement with Saudi Arabia's National Unified Procurement Company to establish emergency COVID-19 testing laboratories.
Under the terms of the agreement, BGI will establish six so-called Huo-Yan "Fire Eye" laboratories in Saudi Arabia and will provide RT-PCR detection kits for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as a total laboratory solution.
The agreement has a total value of SAR 995 million (about $264.6 million), according to a statement from Saudi Arabia's King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre. The contract is expected to provide for about 9 million COVID-19 testing kits overall, with about 50,000 tests per day as well as comprehensive community testing, the centre said. The agreement also calls for BGI to provide genetic analyses of an undisclosed number of samples in Saudi Arabia and an analysis of community immunity based on 1 million samples.
In a statement, BGI said the new lab infrastructure would provide a five-fold increase to Saudi Arabia's testing capacity and could test 30 percent of the country's approximately 33 million people within the next eight months.
BGI established the first Huo-Yan lab in early February in Wuhan, China, the first epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, in collaboration with the Wuhan municipal government, Wuhan East Lake High-Tech Development Zone, CCCC Second Harbor Engineering Company, and Shanghai Nori Laboratory Equipment. That emergency testing lab came equipped with MGI sequencers and a dozen automated nucleic acid extraction platforms. The lab, which BGI said it built in just five days, was originally designed to test 10,000 samples per day. BGI has built similar labs in 10 other Chinese cities as well as in the United Arab Emirates, Brunei, and Serbia.
BGI said it will also deploy the Huo-Yan Air Laboratory, a new rapid solution to quickly establish a BSL-2 safety level lab for SARS-CoV-2 detection, which has a daily testing capacity of 10,000 samples.
BGI's PCR-based COVID-19 tests have garnered CE Marking and US Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization.

Saudi Arabia inks $265 million deal on test kits, labs with China’s BGISource:Global Times Published: 2020/4/27 21:33:40

A Chinese company will provide Saudi Arabia with 9 million coronavirus testing kits and six test laboratories, based on a $265 million deal signed on Sunday, greatly boosting local coronavirus testing capacity to 50,000 people per day.

The Saudi government's decision to procure Huo-yan Laboratories - COVID-19 testing labs developed by Chinese genomics giant BGI - aims to provide tests for 30 percent of the nation's population within eight months, according to a statement BGI sent to the Global Times on Monday.

Based on the contract signed between Saudi Arabia's National Unified Procurement Company (NUPCO) and BGI HEALTH (HK) Co, the Saudi negotiating and purchasing company must pay $124.64 million initially and the rest according to the progress of the project.

When the contract is fulfilled, NUPCO will become one of the major customers of BGI in 2020, the company said. The $265 million deal is equivalent to 67.05 percent of BGI's last annual audited revenue.

"Huo-yan Laboratories played a significant role in Wuhan's fight against the coronavirus and have been proven effective," founder and CEO of BGI Wang Jian said, adding that the company is willing to share its successful experience in Wuhan with its friends in Saudi Arabia.

The laboratories have been adopted by at least 10 overseas countries thus far.

The six large laboratories in Saudi Arabia will include a mobile laboratory with a capacity of 10,000 tests daily.

In addition, BGI will send 500 specialist technicians and medical experts to test the equipment and train local medical staff, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Such cooperation will support Saudi Arabia's coronavirus prevention and control efforts and solidify long-term friendly relations between Saudi Arabia and China, said Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Chinese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chen Weiqing said during the contract signing ceremony that China and Saudi Arabia are "real friends and good partners" who help and support one another, and they have become a role model for international cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus.

According to the Saudi health authority on Sunday, the country has recorded 17,522 coronavirus cases, including 139 deaths.

Due to the holy month of Ramadan, which starts on Thursday, Saudi Arabia has relaxed curfew rules in some parts of the country from Sunday onwards, but kept a 24-hour curfew in Mecca, state news agency SPA reported.

In 2019, the Saudi General Authority for Statistics said about 2.5 million people took part in the Hajj, which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lives if able.

In order to support Saudi Arabia's battle with the pandemic, China sent a team of eight medical experts from Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region to the country.

The experts also took medical supplies donated by the regional government, including surgical masks, N95 masks, protective suits, nucleic acid testing kits and infrared thermometers.

China's BGI to help build two COVID-19 testing labs in Serbia
2020/4/9 17:28:40

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Greg Hunt & Andrew Forrest's BGI test kits were found to be faulty in 60% of cases (before China threatened retaliation ):Australian taxpayer will bear cost of Andrew Forrest's gift

by Ganesh Sahathevan

In a groundbreaking & critically important partnership between the Government, Minderoo Foundation & private pathology providers, Aust has secured an additional 10 million COVID-19 test kits & pathology equipment to be installed across the country STORY -

The tweet above was silent on the fact that the test kits are to be provided by China's BGI.BGI has been in the news for reasons that should concern all Australians who will be reimbursing Andrew Forrest the $ 320 Million he says he has spent on acquiring these testing kits.

 AsiaTimes reported on 30 March 2020:

........Philippine authorities announced that only 40 per cent of the 100,000 test kits bought from the BGI Group and Sansure Biotech, another Chinese company, were accurate.


Monday, April 27, 2020

A case of sheep be true, sheep be true from Leslie Fong, former editor of the Straits Times

by Ganesh Sahathevan

So says Leslie Fong, former editor of Singapore's Straits Times:
Anyone without scales over his eyes and who has not succumbed to cerebral shampooing by the West will have realised by now that large parts of its media are biased, if not outright antagonistic, in their reporting of China (see full story below).

For a former editor Leslie Fong seems remarkably ignorant of the fact that media in "the West" have often come out in support of China  on literally everything, including the spread of the Wuhan Virus for fear that it might put China in a bad light.

This is not hard to understand given the Left-Right divide that is obvious in the West. One would think that a former editor of the Straits Times would be aware of these divisions, but apparently not.

Also, it is curious that Leslie advised readers to "not to forget: their own English language national or regional media too - whether it be the South China Morning Post, The Star in Malaysia, or The Straits Times and Channel NewsAsia in Singapore", and excludes from the list Malaysia's New Straits Times.

To paraphrase Babe this is a case of being true  to  skin, race and clan. Fong has no business speaking for "Asians".

Anyone without scales over his eyes and who has not succumbed to cerebral shampooing by the West will have realised by now that large parts of its media are biased, if not outright antagonistic, in their reporting of China.

From the riots in Hong Kong last year, whitewashed as peaceful pro-democracy protests, to the lockdown of Wuhan and other Chinese cities, derided as draconian and an abuse of human rights, the sting was always there, and often not even hidden in between the lines.
All this will be denied, of course, and not just by those media owners and employees but also the readers and viewers who swear by them. It is futile to debate them, such is their ideological bias that they leave themselves no room for doubt, much less introspection. They are entitled to their reading of China, of course, as are their critics to theirs.

It is perfectly understandable that Western media, especially those that publish and broadcast in English, will want to push what they believe is the interest of the West. No one should expect them to speak up for China and other non-Western nations. Or question the liberal democracy dogmas they have grown up with.
To be fair, there are also not a few among them who genuinely believe that what they do is also for the good of the Chinese suffering under the yoke of a totalitarian regime. And so they have gone at it full tilt, especially the Anglophone media.


It would be foolish for people in this part of the world not to see all this for what it really is - a war, not yet a shooting one but a war by other means nonetheless. Only the wilfully blind will fail to see that it is being waged by the United States and some of its allies to stymie a rising China just so they can hold on to their global hegemony.

Demonising and then isolating China, through disinformation and misinformation, is just one of the means. In the relentless pursuit of that goal, truth, to paraphrase what Mr Hiram Johnson, US Senator for California, first said in 1918, has become the first casualty of this war. So much for the self-serving cant about these media being "respected" providers of fair, objective and balanced coverage.

Does all that matter? 

I submit that it does, to the millions in Singapore, Malaysia and many other former British colonies who have relied all these years on the English-language global media for their news, analyses and commentaries.
It is time they woke up, if they have not already done so, to the fact that their understanding of what is happening in China, and, for that matter, many other places from Syria to Venezuela, is being shaped by those media with an unholy agenda.

This awakening cannot come too soon as some Western media are piling on the pressure by echoing the spurious demands of anti-China politicians that Beijing must pay for the damage caused by the Covid-19 virus which it has set loose on the world.
If allowed to escalate and proliferate, this incitement of people whose lives are being devastated by the pandemic, is certain to result in even more racist attacks against people of Chinese ethnicity, particularly in Western countries. It may well spin out of control into an armed confrontation between the two sides, very possibly in the South China Sea.


But what can ordinary readers and viewers do? 

Well, they can send these media organisations a message. Those who have no problem taking pen to paper should write a protest note to them each time they spot a deliberate distortion - or to their respective regulator.
Nothing will come out of it, for sure, but those who are neither pro-nor anti-China but believe in fair play have to take a stand against deliberate bias and make it clear they will not stand for it.
It is in their enlightened self-interest to do so because if these media can target China now, then they can just as easily turn on their country next and cause damage, as was the case for Hong Kong when the Anglophone media turned a blind eye to all the fire-bombing, vandalism and vicious attacks against innocent citizens, and glorified the perpetrators as freedom fighters.

For those not inclined to write, they can just stop reading or viewing biased media. There are Singaporeans who have cancelled their subscription of The New York Times and ceased watching CNN over the slanted coverage of the Hong Kong riots. Yes, they care enough for Hong Kong and, more importantly, for fair play.
Sure, protesting this way may be inconvenient for those who are monolingual in English as there are few other media organisations that can rival the top Western players in global coverage and reach.

According to Comscore, the audience research agency, as at July last year, CNN had 166 million unique multi-platform visitors, BBC 148 million, Yahoo 117 million and 111 million.
But choices in English are still there - Al Jazeera, which says it has more than 65 bureaus around the world and whose Arabic, English and other language networks have a combined reach into more than 220 million households; and CGTN, China's global television network, which says its free-to-air English service reaches 85 million viewers in over 100 countries.

Admittedly, Al Jazeera and CGTN are nowhere near CNN or the BBC in reach and brand value but any fair-minded reader/viewer who has followed their work for a sustained period knows their products are nothing to sniff at. Anecdotal accounts suggest that CGTN and, in particular, its presenter Liu Xin are gaining traction among the better educated in Singapore because of their measured and fact-based approach to presenting news and commentaries.

The accent of this commentary is on biased reporting of China. If readers and viewers are reluctant to forgo following Anglophone media despite their thinly veiled bias against China and other non-allied powers like Iran, then the least they can do is to also watch or read nascent competitors for balance.
And not to forget: their own English language national or regional media too - whether it be the South China Morning Post, The Star in Malaysia, or The Straits Times and Channel NewsAsia in Singapore. They make no self-glorifying claims to being the gold standard for good journalism but they do try to be objective, fair and balanced.
Individually, each may not have the resources of the existing global players. But in this regard, there is no reason why they cannot pool resources where possible and compete

• Leslie Fong is a former editor of The Straits Times. The views here are his own.