China’s BGI Genomics Co said on Tuesday it expects first-half net profit to be about eight times the amount reported in the same period last year after the global pandemic created a surge in demand for its coronavirus test kits.

The genomics company, which said it has distributed more than 35 million kits across 180 countries and regions, forecasted a net profit of between 1.53 to 1.63 billion yuan (£173.57-£184.97 million) in the six months to end-June, a jump of around 700% from 198 million yuan a year ago.

The novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China late last year, has to date infected over 13 million people globally and killed more than 575 000.

The purchase of test kits from BGI – Beijing Genomics Institute – which has grown into one of the world’s largest genomics companies over the past two decades – has been controversial in some countries.

In May, the Australian government said its purchase of 10 million coronavirus test kits from Chinese genomics company BGI will not risk patient privacy.

BGI Genomics Co is the listed subsidiary of BGI.