U.S. Border Authorities Find More Suspected Fake Coronavirus Test Kits

Tube tests are pictured pictured as media visit the Microbiology Laboratory of the University Hospital (CHUV) during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
March 23, 2020 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: Border SecurityCoronavirusCOVID-19Coronavirus TestsBritain

U.S. Border Authorities Find More Suspected Fake Coronavirus Test Kits

Were Americans duped?

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Tuesday intercepted prohibited medical testing supplies from the United Kingdom, including suspected counterfeit COVID-19 test kits.

CBP officers working at O’Hare’s International Mail Facility apprehended shipments labeled “Test Kits,” which included alleged testing supplies for various diseases, the agency announced in a press release. Coronavirus testing kits were among many other alleged kits found in the parcels, including tests for meningitis, MRSA and salmonella.

The parcels were handed over to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for further analysis.

“CBP personnel have done a phenomenal job with intercepting these items,” Lesley Lukens, chief supervisory officer of the International Mail Facility, said in a statement. “Each seizure provides additional insight into past, current and future smuggling trends to assist CBP with intercepting additional parcels containing similar items that are harmful to our personal health and national security.”

“Counterfeit products have serious consequences to everyone,” said Hans Leiterman, the assistant area port director in Chicago. “CBP seizures of illegally imported counterfeit merchandise helps protect the health and safety of U.S. citizens, and the reputation of marketplaces involved in these transactions.”

 

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act bars the delivery “for introduction into interstate commerce” of any food, drug, device, tobacco product, or other related items that are misbranded or altered.

CBP reiterated that diagnostic testing for viruses and diseases, including COVID-19, is conducted at verified local and state public health laboratories — and the agency cautioned against counterfeit home testing kits that are advertised online.

 

There are no FDA-approved at-home tests for coronavirus available in the United States.

“No at-home test has been granted an emergency use authorization,” an FDA spokesperson told NBC News. “And at-home test kits are explicitly exempt as part of our recent coronavirus diagnostics policy.”

The seizure at O’Hare was not the first time authorities intercepted suspected bogus COVID-19 test kits from the United Kingdom.

CBP officers working at the Los Angeles International Mail Facility on March 12 opened a package that was listed as “Purified Water Vials,” containing vials filled with a white liquid and labeled as “Virus1 Test Kit” and “Corona Virus 2019nconv (COVID-19).” That package was also handed over to the FDA.

Since the beginning of March, CBP officers stationed at the O’Hare airport alone have processed 793 seizures of inbound international mail, including narcotics, counterfeit goods, firearm suppressors, bogus identification documents and counterfeit U.S. currency totaling $1,185,300.

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Image: Tube tests are pictured pictured as media visit the Microbiology Laboratory of the University Hospital (CHUV) during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse