Numerous posts on social media have claimed that data on the World Integrated Trade Solutions website shows that countries have been ordering tests for Covid-19 for years before the pandemic started.
This is not true.
The World Integrated Trade Solutions website is a collaborative project, between a number of different bodies like the World Bank and World Trade Organisation, which shows trade information.
Above the data for products classified as 300215 and 902780 (kits which test for an immune response, and instruments used in clinical laboratories for in vitro diagnosis) it states “The data here track previously existing medical devices that are now classified by the World Customs Organization as critical to tackling COVID-19.” These are the product codes features in screenshots in the Facebook posts.
So, before the pandemic, countries look like they were importing and exporting items that are now classified as Covid-19 as prior to the outbreak these were used for other things.
This is the case for a range of medical supplies which have been deemed vital to tackling the pandemic, including wheelchairs, soap and ultrasound machines.
The World Integrated Trade Solutions website appears to have recently altered the description of these products so they no longer include “Covid-19” in the product description.