Chinese company unaware of the alleged contract with Mexico to acquire ventilators for COVID-19 patients

Chinese medical device maker Beijing Aeonmed said it has no knowledge of the contract or the company acting as an intermediary.

Mexico’s desperate race to secure more ventilators, before existing coronavirus cases in the country overwhelm its public health system, is taking it to unknown corners of the medical supply market, with at least one contract that raises questions about its legitimacy.

Chinese medical device maker Beijing Aeonmed, which is said to be the supplier of an urgent order for 2,500 fans to Mexico, said it has no knowledge of the contract or the company acting as an intermediary.

For its part, Levanting Global Services, an external distributor that won the contract with the Government of Mexico to fulfill the orders, disputes that account. This company said it has already paid Aeonmed more than $ 5 million for the equipment, but the company is yet to reveal such a request.

In China, “they are reviewing each factory to see what they do with the fans, so that is what is happening with the delay of the company,” Baldemar Pérez Ríos, owner of Levanting, from Texas, said by telephone. “Everything has been arranged, but since they are not authorized to speak now, the moment they have everything ready, once we are sending, we will be able to speak of everything.”

The agreement was signaled by the Mexican Association Against Corruption and Impunity, which questioned why the Government would grant a direct order to a distributor who is not known to stock up on medical devices. Levanting previously won contracts with energy companies, including Pemex, in addition to the Federal Electricity Commission.

“Public documents do not specify the make and model of the devices (ventilators),” the group said on its website.

Disinformation wave

When Bloomberg contacted Aeonmed, the company said it has no agreement with either Levanting or the Mexican government to export 2,500 ventilators to Mexico.

The Chinese firm previously warned on its website of a wave of misinformation about its equipment and shipments.

Mexico joins countries around the world in the fight to secure ventilators, as the global death toll from the coronavirus exceeds 128,000 and fuels demand from Milan to New York.

Hospitals, which generally have only a few of the machines needed to treat these kinds of illnesses, now face the need for one per critical patient. That deficit is not easy to fill because complex devices cannot be produced as quickly as other medical supplies such as surgical masks or disinfectants.

On April 8, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology called for a “sober understanding” of China’s ventilation capacity. The ministry estimated that China can only manufacture around 2,200 invasive ventilators each week, less than a fifth of world capacity, and said it is “unrealistic” that China can meet international demand. Since then, the country has delivered almost 18,000 ventilators, including more than 4,000 invasive ventilators, to foreign countries.

Ríos, the owner of Levanting, said that Mexico has not yet made any payment for the equipment, and the government demanded a guarantee bond so that disbursements can be recovered if the quality of the ventilators does not meet expectations.

The first batch of shipments will be delivered this week, Ríos said, and his goal is to complete the entire order within 30 days.

Zoé Robledo, director of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), the body that is buying the ventilators, confirmed that the government has not yet paid anything for the contract. The agency set Wednesday as the deadline to receive news from the company or threatened to cancel the deal.

But, he added, if Levanting delivers the promised ventilators and passes all technical tests, then it doesn’t matter if the company bought the equipment directly or through another intermediary, Robledo said.

“I would have no choice but to buy them, for one reason: it is a matter of life and death,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Health, 486 people have died from the new SARS-COV-2 coronavirus in Mexico.

In addition, the confirmed cases amounted to 6,297, of which 26.6 percent are hospitalized in serious condition.

Meanwhile, suspected cases of COVID-19 disease increased to 12,340.

Source: elfinanciero.com.mx, bloomberg.com

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