DUBAI — The State Department warned the state of Nevada against using Chinese-made coronavirus testing kits donated by the United Arab Emirates over concerns about accuracy and patient privacy, according to an investigation by the Associated Press.
Citing emails and other documents it had obtained, the AP report said the Nevada governor’s office was contacted by U.S. diplomats who discouraged any planned involvement with China’s BGI Group’s testing kits or analysis facilities.
The UAE had donated 250,000 BGI testing kits to Nevada, and there had been talk about setting up testing facilities in the state, which the report said the UAE government had long viewed as an investment opportunity.
The governor’s office in April instructed Nevada’s University Medical Center not to use the tests or pursue a joint laboratory deal. The UAE entities involved in the transaction did not respond to requests by the AP for comment, while BGI said the donations were made without its knowledge.
According to the report, U.S. concerns revolved around Chinese government-linked companies gaining access to U.S. citizens’ genetic information and medical histories. Officials also warned about the accuracy of the tests.
The report comes at a time of increased antagonism between the United States and China over trade and security issues. In May, the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center issued a warning to states that “foreign powers can collect, store and exploit biometric information from COVID tests” and “gain market advantage from your genetic material.”