The Ministry of Health sees conspiracy theories behind the reactions caused by the award of the bid submitted by a new company in December 2020.
The fact that a company set up just thirty days before the tender had won the tender for the supply of 400 thousand rapid tests to the state had alarmed the members of the Cyprus Association of Medical and Scientific Equipment (SAIEK), who in a letter in early December asked for clarifications. by the Head of the Purchasing and Procurement Department of the Ministry of Health, Mr. Christos Nikolaou, informing at the same time the Auditor General and the Attorney General.
The president of the union disagreed
Although the president of SAIEK had separated his position from the other members, asking to withdraw from the meetings held in those days due to the fact that he was the one who won the first offer for rapid test and therefore did not consider it appropriate to take part in the proceedings, however, the other members of the union turned to a lawyer for legal advice without finally taking further action.
The issue has returned to the forefront due to the problem that occurred in a lot of this market rapid test. In fact, reports in the Cypriot press implied that the Ministry of Health intends to cancel the offer or impose sanctions on the supplier.
“Only one lot”
Politis.com.cy contacted the Ministry of Health and as we were told the problem presented concerns only a batch of one hundred thousand rapid antigen tests. A lot of one hundred thousand rapid tests with a common code which means that they were made together.
Of the four hundred thousand rapid disease detection tests purchased by this company, a lot of one hundred thousand did not work.
As we have been told by the Ministry of Health, rapid tests before being placed in sampling units for population control are tested to check if they are reliable and working properly. And it is in this way that the problem was identified in the specific batch and the import company and the manufacturer of the specific rapid test were contacted.
The Ministry of Health has informed us that the problem that occurred with the results of this batch concerned the drops. Instead of the 300 microliter solution (ie six drops, since each is about 50 microliters) that had to be used by the sample, according to the manufacturer's instructions, 400 – 500 microliters (eight to ten drops) of the sample were needed to produce a result. . That is, more liquid so that the membrane works and the test runs.
It is noted that rapid tests have a membrane where the fluid is absorbed which ends at the point called the control, for a positive or negative result.
The problem with this batch was solved by the construction company with a new study that it carried out, after it was first informed about it by the buyer, ie the Ministry of Health. And after it was confirmed by the Competent Authority of Medical Equipment, the Ministry of Health expects to be sent larger doses of solution within a week, so that it can take 8-10 drops from each sample to have the result of the rapid tests of the specific batch.
Conspiracies and interests
We also raised the issue that arose after the ratification of the agreement with the new company and the reactions of the Cyprus Association of Medical and Scientific Equipment (SAIEK), whose members report / complain about the fact that a company – paratrooper won the tender for the Ministry of Health. supply of such a public health sensitive product to the state.
Every time a competition is held, we were told, new companies that meet the specifications and offer better prices may appear. As a result, old suppliers lose bids. And because we are talking about a lot of money, they said, those who lost the competition react.
The problem that occurred in a lot of rapid tests purchased from this company, explains the Ministry of Health, can happen to any supplier and what happened means nothing.
Information states that the price set by the specific company was better with each test being charged 3.23 euros, which is almost two euros cheaper than the price of the first tests that were introduced in Cyprus last October.
Based in a house in Limassol
Regarding the information that the specific company declared the headquarters of a house in an area of Limassol and not offices, and this possibility is a suspicious element, the Ministry of Health stated that it is not necessary to have rapid test warehouses, because they are received immediately from the state as soon as they arrive in Cyprus. The ministry also notes that it is not its job to control the infrastructure of each supplier.
As long as the company is registered with the Registrar of Companies, no issue is raised, said at http://politis.com.cy a competent person of the Ministry of Health who was called to comment on the issue that arose.
It is worth mentioning that we investigated the issue many days ago, when the first reactions of the Association of Representatives of Medical and Scientific Equipment of Cyprus emerged and through the information that this company stated to the Registrar of Companies, we came to a house in Limassol declared as its headquarters. supplier.
Under the microscope of the Audit Office
However, Auditor General Odysseas Michailidis told politis.com.cy that the Audit Office is investigating the procedures followed by the Ministry of Health in this offer and that further information has been requested.
Asked when the Audit Service requested this information, Mr. Odysseas Michailidis replied that this happened a few days ago and that they are waiting for an official response from the Ministry of Health.
“This tender,” said the Auditor General, “was not open and therefore by definition is high risk. Therefore, we try to examine whether the offers were OK, what information they have submitted, etc. “
Yesterday's announcement of the Ministry
It is also noted that the Ministry of Health issued a new announcement on this issue yesterday. “In early December,” he said, “a contract was signed for a rapid Covid-19 antigen test between the Ministry of Health and Velorius Ltd. The company in question submitted its proposal, in the framework of a public Preliminary Consultation and out of the 26 proposals submitted, only 3 of them were evaluated and accepted, including the proposal of the company in question. The company is completely legal and maintains a quality system (ISO 9001: 2015), which was secured by a Cypriot Certification Body and therefore there was no reason to be excluded from the process “.
“The Ministry of Health”, it is added in the announcement, “for purposes of quality control of the tests used, carries out for each product that receives its own tests in order to determine the positive predictive capacity of the tests. All tests used by our teams have been tested and their reliability has been confirmed. Regarding the report in the publication for a specific lot that presented a problem, it is noted that this lot concerns the receipt of a later contract, which was signed in January between the Ministry of Health and Velorius Ltd, as a result of a competitive urgency process between 3 economic operators. It is noted that this batch was temporarily withdrawn and the Competent Medical Equipment Authority carried out, in the presence of all stakeholders, all the appropriate checks, during which the best way to use these tests was identified, so that they could to be used safely and reliably
“All participants received equal treatment”
In an earlier announcement, the Ministry of Health, commenting on a publication, had stated that “in compliance with the provisions of the Circular of the General Accounting Office no. 109 and relevant provision in the Legislation on the Regulation of the Procurement Procedures and on Related Issues of the Law of 2016 (N73 (I) / 2016), the Ministry of Health proceeded, due to an urgent need to be met “.
He developed, he adds, as competitive a process as possible, with the maximum of transparency and through a negotiation process, without prior publication, proceeded to the signing of a relevant agreement ensuring the public interest and public health within the framework of the applicable legislation.
And he noted that all participants received equal treatment and were evaluated in the context of the requirements that had been published. The successful economic operator meets the requirements set, maintains a quality system and the product offered has all the required certificates in accordance with the relevant Legislation (CE-IVD Certificate, Proof of Registration of the authorized representative in the Competent Authority of the country in which he is based, etc.) .
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