Covid-19: Hong Kong Consumer Watchdog launches search engine for approved rapid antigen tests

The Consumer Council of Hong Kong has launched an online search tool for the public to find certified Covid-19 antigen rapid test kits, after receiving dozens of complaints about delivery delays, product quality and suspected counterfeit items.

Between Jan. 14 and Tuesday, the Consumer Council received a total of 48 complaints about rapid antigen test kits, worth a combined HK$48,937, the statutory body revealed during a briefing. an online press briefing on Wednesday.

Covid-19 antigen rapid test kits. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Most of the complaints – 37 out of 48 – were from test kits purchased online, with the majority of complaints about delays in delivery, which accounted for 19 cases. Thirteen cases raised questions about the certification of test kits and six complaints concerned how they were sold.

Other complaints related to disputes over prices, expiry dates, model error, suspected infringement and the modification or termination of contracts.

According to the council, the test kits reported to the watchdog ranged in price from HK$18 to $120. Their origins included mainland China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, United Kingdom, Australia and Hong Kong.

In one case cited by the watchdog, a customer spent HK$6,500 on 80 test kits in late February, only to find the items would expire less than four months after receiving them. Another case saw a customer buy eight test kits from an online store last month, which the seller said had passed an assessment by the European Union (EU). But the customer could not find the product on the list issued by the organization.

The watchdog said it had resolved six cases and was following up on the others.

Online database

To help the general public find test kits approved by various authorities, the council has rolled out a online database which displays a list of self-testing products recognized by the Hong Kong Ministry of Health under the Medical Device Administrative Control System and China National Medical Products Administration.

Consumer Council Covid-9 antigen rapid test kits database. Photo: Screenshot of the Consumer Council website.

The search engine also includes product tests certified by the EU, the US Food and Drug Administration, and those distributed by the Hong Kong government.

The public should check the certification listed on the test kits, the council said, as well as know their expiration dates, which were not always provided by online shops. Citizens should not “hoard” test kits and should opt for refundable payment methods, such as credit cards, if possible, the watchdog said.

“The Covid-19 virus can see mutations again and its antigens can change, which can affect the functions of rapid antigen tests. So, [citizens] should purchase an appropriate amount of test kits according to [their] real needs,” said the Consumer Council.

Consumer Council chairman and advocate Paul Lam added: “[T]there is no necessary logical connection between price and effectiveness.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong recorded a total of 527,260 Covid-19 infections, of which 2,018 were discovered through rapid antigen tests.