A resurgence in the Covid-19 pandemic globally has given Chinese medical equipment manufacturers an opportunity to grow their market share, say company executives and analysts. With ramped up production and closer ties to overseas customers fostered earlier this year, they expect makers of medical devices from ventilator accessories to virus testing kits to reap greater success after a bumpy first half. At the same time, the companies are wary of the rising global hostility towards China amid calls to reduce reliance on Chinese medical supplies, which could potentially limit the home-grown champions’ overseas ambitions in the longer term. “As we are expecting another wave of the pandemic, we continue to see demand for our devices and disposables from European countries and we believe the demand will remain at a high level for the rest of the year,” said To Ki-cheung, chief executive of Vincent Medical Holdings , a Hong Kong-listed maker of respiratory equipment with production lines in mainland China, in a recent interview. The global coronavirus daily tally climbed to an all-time high of 399,602 cases on Thursday, as the pandemic once again sweeps across Europe and the US with increasing speed and intensity. The overall global total since the pandemic started earlier this year is just shy of 40 million. The pandemic’s spread helped to push China’s exports of medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and protective equipment like masks higher by 37 per cent to 1 trillion yuan (US$149 billion) in the first three quarters of this year from the same period last year, according to official data. Vincent Medical, which produces ventilator humidifiers – a device that makes the air delivered by the machine warm and moist – has benefited from the shortage of medical equipment globally. As a result it has hired an additional 1,000 workers to double its employees and quadrupled production capacity at its factories in the southern mainland cities of Guangzhou and Dongguan. The company reported a stunning year-on-year jump of 572 per cent in profits during the first half to HK$91.8 million, a record high, while revenue soared by 104 per cent to HK$502.3 million. At the height of Europe’s first outbreak in March, an employee of Vincent Medical received a direct phone call in the middle of the night from an Italian hospital – the Bologna University Hospital – who wanted to buy their products. It was a remarkable event for To as the company had only worked with distributors overseas in the past. “The Covid-19 pandemic opened up opportunities for companies like Vincent Medical as they gain more recognition from new clients,” said E Wuen Tan, analyst at Crosby Securities. The company formed many new partnerships with distributors overseas over the course of the year, To said. The appointing of dealers in Saudi Arabia led to a 112-fold surge in revenue from the Middle Eastern country in the first half of this year, according to its first-half earnings report. “I think the golden era for the industry has just arrived,” said Kun Tit-sang, director and vice general manager at Guangdong Hybribio Biotech , a Shenzhen-listed maker of coronavirus testing kits. The pandemic is a wake-up call for the world to increase spending on disease prevention and testing, he added. However, the meteoric rise in Chinese medical equipment exports has also led to controversies over their quality, leading Beijing to ban exporters of defective products. Politicians in the UK and the US – including President Donald Trump and presidential candidate Joe Biden – have called for an end to their countries’ reliance on Chinese medical supplies. “The hostility towards China and the geopolitical disputes … may impact our expansion [in the future],” said To, adding that the firm has not yet been affected and has obtained emergency regulatory approvals to sell its products in the US and Europe. To be sure, Chinese players only enjoy dominance in the low to mid-end products such as medical gloves, disposable syringes and catheters. For higher-end equipment, such as neurointerventional devices, China still relies on imports for around 80 per cent of the demand, according to an estimate by Farica Li, an analyst at Cinda International Holdings. “It’s not important whether it’s the domestic or overseas market, what matters is the Chinese companies’ ability to improve their quality and develop higher-end products. That’s what counts in the end,” said Li.