In October 2021, the White House rejected a proposal of increasing COVID testing that could have manufactured more than 730 million at-home COVID testing kits per month to avert the holiday season crisis.
Backstepping on his action, Biden recently announced the distribution of COVID testing kits to deter the rising omicron variant.
White House refused to increase at-home COVID testing in October
Experts from T.H. Chan School of Public Health of Harvard, the COVID collaborative, the Rockefeller Foundation, and other organizations teamed up to suggest to the White House increasing COVID testing facilities in the United States.
According to the report released by Vanity Fair, those experts wanted “to prevent a holiday COVID surge” in America.
However, the White House was quick to reject the proposal and suggested it would ramp up testing facilities via the regulatory process of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Biden administration turned down public health expert plan in late October that called for manufacturing and sending over 700 million rapid COVID-19 tests to Americans ahead of holidays, per Vanity Fair report – Yahoo News https://t.co/GeaSnE2VOK pic.twitter.com/r0FSauvaML
— Vishwa Arogyam (@publichealth4u) December 25, 2021
One of the officials who attended the October 22 meeting stated the administration did not want to accept the proposal; it lacked the capacity to manufacture “over-the-counter” testing kits at such a huge scale.
Reportedly, the FDA only approved some testing kits, so the administration’s ability to increase manufacturing was limited.
However, the latest announcement by Biden to surge COVID testing kits manufacturing depicts a significant shift in the administration’s policy. Right from next year, the White House will launch a website on which Americans can order free at-home testing kits.
The move came amid the time when the omicron variant successfully impacted thousands of American lives; fears of experts about the chronic outbreak have started to be realized.
Hundreds of flights on Christmas were grounded just because of the rising omicron cases.
Biden, Psaki ate their words on COVID testing
After ignoring the initial offer, Biden seems to have lamented his October decision. While talking to ABC News, Biden said on Wednesday he wished he ordered half a billion test kits a couple of months ago before the latest COVID wave.
Biden’s latest comments also contradict what White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier this year.
Responding to a question related to increased access to COVID testing, Psaki sarcastically asked the reporter what would happen if the administration sent one COVID testing kit to every American.
After Biden’s latest comments, Psaki ate her words and noted she should have commented about it with greater context.
Biden administration REJECTED plan for 732M tests a month in October to cope with the holiday COVID surge: Psaki attempts to defend president's inaction by insisting there 'wasn't the demand' at the timehttps://t.co/qab4UsyijX
— Jack Posobiec ✝️ (@JackPosobiec) December 24, 2021
Dr. Michael Mina, one of the participants of the October meeting, told Vanity Fair the Biden administration did not include testing in its COVID strategy. Likewise, he added the government preferred vaccination campaigns over developing testing facilities to eliminate the virus.
A senior level official at the COVID Collaborative, Dr. Steven Phillips, asserted the Biden administration played “small ball” in its COVID strategy. Kamala Harris recently admitted the Biden administration did not see the new variant coming.