Federal investigators seized 100 coronavirus test kits being shipped from China to a Portland apartment complex, according to a federal search warrant. The coronavirus test kits were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and prohibited from entering the country.
On March 18, U.S. Customs intercepted the shipment containing four white boxes labeled “COVID-19 SARS-COv-2) Antibody Test Kit (Collodial Gold)” at the FedEx International Mail facility in Memphis, Tennessee. Each box contained 25 individual kits, for a total of 100 test kits.
An invoice seized as part of the shipment listed the purchaser as a Portland resident, wrote FDA special agent Hilary Rickher in a federal search warrant affidavit.
The name of the purchaser was redacted from the court record.
The FDA investigator was not able to find any records showing the purchaser was a licensed doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
The unapproved test kits were being mailed to a Portland apartment complex, according to the search warrant.
The invoice showed the test kits were shipped from Anhui Deep Blue Medical Technology of Hebei, China.
Deep Blue Medical did not respond to an email seeking comment.
The invoice listed the tests as 50 cents per unit, with a total cost of $50 for the 100 test kits.
The price is far cheaper than a typical coronavirus test, which is at least $1,000 through certain private insurers and would require the use of an FDA-approved lab test center, explained an unnamed COVID-19 Physician Incident Commander for a major Portland area hospital in the search warrant.
“50 cents is ridiculous even for a swab. But for a test to actually give a result itself it’s a preposterous cost,” explained the physician incident commander.
A product with similar labeling and logo was featured in a tweet by Chin Xinhau News. The tweet promoted, “15 minutes! New rapid test strips for #coronavirus have been developed by a company in Hefei, China. #FightVirus.”
Special agent Rickher had FDA officials who regulate, approve and clear medical devices examine the product and labeling.
“The test kits are unapproved/uncleared medical devices,” wrote Rickher.
The FDA did not respond for comment. So far, no arrests have been made in the case, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Portland.